President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou met with Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens and All Greece on Wednesday, praising the contribution of the Church in dealing with the pandemic, as well as the fact that it has always assisted the state, whenever the country or its citizens have need of it, ANT News reported.
Sakellaropoulou pointed out that “we went through an unprecedented crisis that created problems, forced us to dramatically change our habits, our daily lives and threatened to disrupt the Church’s relations with its flock.” Addressing Archbishop Ieronymos, she noted that “thanks to the prestige and responsibility that distinguishes you, these difficulties were addressed and you contributed in the best possible way to addressing the consequences of the pandemic in the best way for our country.”
She also stressed that the Church has always assisted the State. “Both in the migration-refugee issue and in the economic crisis, you have always tried to support those that are persecuted and in need. And I sincerely wish you personally, but also the Church as a whole, to continue to convey these messages of love and solidarity to our fellow human beings because I think that we will have absolute need for it in the period that will now follow,” added the President.
On his part, Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens and All Greece, after thanking the President for her kind words, pointed out that the Church stood by the decisions of the State and respected the instructions of the experts, while he spoke about the difficulty of making the churches a place of worship. “We suffered. And you know for us, the officials, working with the doors closed or being forced to say a few words to the people in empty chairs is a hard thing.”
However, he stressed that man is the supreme law for both the rules of the Church and the laws of the state. “So we did what we could with difficulties, because on the whole the Church progressed. And looking around, I see that the Church is even more disciplined,” adding that “that’s why we are doing everything we can to help, because we do not single out care, how to help people more.”
The President of the Republic agreed that “it is important for the love for man, regardless of colour, faith, religion, to stand close to the Church, but also to each other. Only then can society really move forward: when it has this peace, when there is peaceful coexistence, so that we can move towards a better future.”
At the same time, Archbishop Ieronymos expressed the hope that “we all realise that even the largest countries – even those with more potential – that this area has a limit of endurance in all directions, in populations, in food, in health; let us all respect it.”
Last year, Prokopis Pavlopoulos presented Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos with the Grand Cross of the Order of Honour medal. “Especially with regard to your social work, I must highlight that it corresponds in an exemplary way with the values and principles of our Church, arising in accordance with the Gospels from the starting point of ‘love one another’ to the highest ideal of ‘love thy neighbour as thyself,” Pavlopoulos said.