30 July 2020, The Tablet

It’s hard to avoid the impression that the Greeks are doing something right

It’s hard to avoid the impression that the Greeks are doing something right

It’s interesting to note that Greece came top in the Pew Research Centre poll of western European nations, when respondents were asked whether God was important in their lives, and other questions of religiosity – 82 per cent said He was, just seven points below Turkey and significantly ahead of every other European nation, including Poland. It’s significant because the Orthodox Church is determinedly uncompromising in outlook and practice.

In fact, religion in Greece is about doing, not just thinking and believing. It’s a matter of lighting candles at images, of street-side shrines and holy pictures and saints’ days, of fasting and feasting, not just what happens in people’s heads. Popular religion there is more intelligible in terms of Latin Christendom before the Second Vatican Council than after it. Orthodox bishops are not, to put it mildly, particularly progressive in terms of social issues, including gay and trans rights. And yet the faith remains part of everyday life for many Greeks in a way that used to be the case in Ireland or Italy and now just isn’t.

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