In Greece and the Republic of Macedonia


At the end of January two of the brothers attended the funeral of Mgr Christodoulos, Archbishop of Athens and all of Greece. He knew Brother Roger well and followed closely what was happening at Taizé. One of the brothers went back to Greece at the beginning of April for a longer visit. He had a meeting with a young collaborator of the new archbishop, Mgr Ieronimos, to discuss possibilities of future contacts and exchanges with the Orthodox Church of Greece.

Meetings with young people took place in several cities: at Volos, Halandri (Athens), on the Isle of Syros, at Salonica and at Xanthi. The exchanges dealt with the life of the Church in Greece and in other countries, the meetings in Taizé and the need for Christians of different traditions to know each another better, with prayer, with faith and doubt. In Greece too, society is changing very rapidly and questions of faith are arising in a new way. During the evening at Halandri, it was impressive to see the great seriousness with which young believers, accompanied by their priests, asked questions, and searched for dialogue also with those who experience difficulty or even impossibility in believing.

One evening in Athens, the Catholic Church of St John Baptist of Psichiko was full for a time of prayer together. It had been prepared by a young Orthodox, with songs from Taizé and prayers from the Orthodox office of compline, with Bible readings, a time of silence, and intercessions. Young adults and older people, including Mgr Foskolos, the Catholic Archbishop of Athens, took part. There were Orthodox, Catholics and Protestants; Greeks but also Polish, Italians, Congolese, Afghans…. In a very short time Greece has become a country with many immigrants.

The journey ended with a prayer and a meeting at Skopje. The shortest way to get from the North-East of Greece into the Republic of Macedonia passes alongside Lake Doiran, but, since there is neither bus nor train nearby, part of the way has to be done on foot. Right on the frontier, in the beautiful peaceful countryside along the lake shore, stands a church dedicated to Saints Cyril and Methodius. They were Greeks who in the 9th century set off from Salonica and - like Saint Paul who made himself “all things to all people” (1 Cor 9, 22) - made themselves Slavs with the Slav peoples to whom they brought the Gospel. To pass slowly by their church, on a day precisely where, because of a political circumstance, hurtful words about the other side could be heard in the two neighbouring countries, was a beautiful invitation to meditate on what they had done. In their time, they dared to go beyond rigid identities. Today also, the Gospel calls us to hold fast with a reconciled heart in the midst of frustrations and tensions.

Last updated: 23 April 2008