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Greek Priest Suspended for Giving Women a Role in the Holy Service

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“This photo makes those of us who attend the Church of Agios Nikolaos Ragavas proud. Young priest girls with the blessing of Father Alexandros Kariotoglou,” a parishioner said. Facebook/Σοφία Πολ.
The Greek Church has suspended a priest in Athens for using two women instead of men as “little priests” (papadakia) during a Holy Service recently. The “papadakia” are usually young boys and their role is to assist the priest during services.

The initiative by Father Alexandros Kariotoglou was condemned by conservative circles who accused him of breaking the traditions of the Greek Orthodox Church, by allowing females a role in the service.

Father Alexandros of the Agios Nikolaos Ragavas Church in Plaka, Athens, has been barred from officiating the Divine Liturgy and conducting weddings, baptisms or confessions until the 12-member Holy Synod discusses the issue and decides on his future.

Father Alexandros is regarded as one of the brightest “minds” of the Greek Church. He has a doctorate from the Theological School of the University of Athens. He has taught at the Theological School of Agios Andreas in Sydney, Australia and the Pedagogical Department of the University of Thessaly.

He is also the author of several books including “Orthodoxy and Islam” which has won several international awards.

Outcry over suspension of Greek priest over the role of women

The decision to suspend Father Alexandros was condemned by many clerics and theologists in Greece who accused the leadership of the Church of caving in to fundamentalist, intolerant, and ultra-orthodox elements.

The outrage and denial of conservatives is hypocritical said Protopriest Vasilios Thermos. “Many women have been serving at the Altar for a long time, including in monasteries, church camps and even parishes,” he told the Vima newspaper.

“Most metropolitans do not care about the essence. They don’t want girls in the Altar because they are ‘stuck’ in the past. Our Church has been held hostage by the fundamentalists.”

Protopriest Vasilios warned that if Father Alexandros is punished there will be a backlash.

“It will deeply scandalize people with quality of thinking, and serious reflection. Unfortunately, many of our metropolitans are unaware that these people exist. Extremists make a fuss out of all proportion to their numbers.

“If the moderates bombarded the Synod with demands for change, then our Bishops would be surprised,” the senior Greek priest added.

Another Greek Orthodox Priest, Father Livios, took to Facebook to express his dismay. “When a priest, who has dedicated his whole life to the church and theology, is suspended because he used two little girls to hold the candle at the Divine Liturgy, then something is definitely not right in the Church.

“Why don’t all those who were bothered by the girls who held the candles in the Divine Liturgy come out and say clearly that their problem is women?”

The Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church is expected to make a decision on Father Alexandros next week.

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