High-ranking Orthodox prelate warns against spread of antisemitism by religious officials

THESSALONIKI, Greece (AP) — Speaking on the day for commemorating the victims of the Holocaust, a high-ranking official of the Orthodox Church warned Sunday against the spread of antisemitism by religious and church officials.

“I am worried by the spread of antisemitism internationally," Archbishop Elpidophoros of America, spiritual leader of Greek Orthodox faithful in North and South America, told an audience in Thessaloniki, Greece’s second largest city.

He added that he is particularly worried that "the ointment of the Church does not heal wounds, but spreads the fire” of antisemitism, though he didn't give any specific examples.

“Evil has a name, an identity and a history, and it is called fascism and Nazism. ... It has no relation to Christian theology despite the efforts of some to dress their far-right ideology with the cloak of Christianity,” Elpidophoros said.

The archbishop and a former city mayor, Yiannis Boutaris, were made honorary members of the Jewish community in Thessaloniki, which now numbers only about 1,200.

Earlier in the day, Elpidophoros, city officials and the ambassadors of Israel and the United States commemorated the Holocaust at Eleftherias (Freedom) Square. That is where the city’s Jews were rounded up by German occupation troops in 1943 before being packed into trains and sent to concentration camps. The vast majority went to Auschwitz-Birkenau, and about 50,000 perished.


Demetris Nellas reported from Athens.