To Show Openness, Greek Orthodox Church to Hold Services for All Athletes

August 14, 2004

Source: Deutsche Welle,3367,1441_A_1297523_1_A,00.html?mpb=en

On August 14, 2004 Deutsche Welle reported, "As the Olympics return to their home country, the Greek Orthodox Church and the government are making an effort to show the country is cosmopolitan when it comes to religion... More than 95 percent of the Aegean nation's 10.5 million citizens belong to the Greek Orthodox Church. But only 2 percent of them go to church regularly, despite the fact that Greek Orthodoxy is a pillar of Greek identity. But the church has appeared to be stuck in the past for a long time, and its self-confidence -- its primacy is practically guaranteed in the country's constitution -- has made relations with other churches difficult. Members of other religious communities in Greece have criticized the Greek Orthodox church's place in the constitution, but believers see it as a way to protect their traditions... However, the Olympic Games in Athens could signal the beginning of a change towards openness. The Greek Orthodox Church has said it will hold religious services for athletes from throughout the world. 'The church, the religions will accompany the players and the athletes,' Professor Theodor Nikolaou, head of the Institute for Orthodox Theology at the University of Munich, told DW-RADIO. 'In the words of the Archbishop of Athens Christodulos, the most important contribution religions make, including the Greek church, is to the spirit of the games being peaceful.'"