President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on Sunday called for “unity on a national plan that will enable us to mitigate the repercussions of the crisis, to protect the weak and to look forward with optimism”, is a message on the 192nd anniversary of the March 25 Greek Independence Day, which marks the start of the 1821 Greek revolution against Ottoman rule.
He stressed that “our thoughts are with Cyprus”, adding that “in these critical moments, words alone are not sufficient, but our active solidarity and support” are needed.
The President underlined that “Hellenism is being sorely tried in an international environment that is becoming increasingly tougher”.
“Much is happening that does not depend on our own efforts, but which we can guide them with our decisions and our own actions,” he added.
As for the meaning of the March 25 anniversary itself, Papoulias noted that “the 1821 Revolution evoked international admiration, inspired, touched and continues to generate thoughts on the power of collectiveness, faith in ideals, passion for freedom and independence”.
President Papoulias also underlined the important role played by the Church of Greece in the multi-level, ethical and spiritual crisis the country is going through, addressing Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece at the traditional luncheon the President hosted for the Holy Synod in observation of the ‘Feast of Orthodoxy’, which is celebrated on the first Sunday of Lent.
Papoulias noted that Greece is going through a tough trial, with unemployment downgrading the standard of living and the widespread poverty and financial inequalities putting the social cohesion at risk.
“In such conditions, extremity, violence, intolerance and division find room to develop,” he warned, adding that the role of the Orthodox Church is exceptionally important today. “More and more of our compatriots look to the Church’s social contribution and its support,” he said, given that “the crisis we are going through is multi-dimensional, it is an ethical and spiritual crisis”.
“Our system of values is being shaken, fundamental principles of our democracy are being disputed, and this is the reason why the word spoken by the Church is also of exceptional importance today. I am touched when I hear the Hierarchs who preach love, solidarity, tolerance, who work to preserve the social peace,” Papoulias continued.
He underlined the Orthodox Church’s unwavering position for absolute respect of human liberty and human rights, which automatically renders the Church a leader in the struggle for a genuine and integrated democracy.
Papoulias made particular reference to the “scourge” of poverty, noting that his is why the social solidarity taught by the Church is so important.
In his return address, the Archbishop stressed that the secret to the struggle was and always is unity and self-sacrifice.
“The hardships, the crises and the impasses in this world have always existed, exist today and will always exist. We have a duty to remain standing…The meal you hosted today, with love, for us, marks the common path of the Church and State, each with its duty and authority, with their objective purpose the ministration of the human being, the Greek and this blessed country, Greece,” Ieronymos said.