"No Pope here", "Antichrist go home", "Papa persona non grata", said the placards – and it wasn't Northern Ireland, but Greece!
The Papal visit to Athens – the first since the Great Schism of 1054 – has provoked a storm of anger, protest and fierce opposition. Camouflaged as a voyage for reconciliation between Roman Catholicism and Orthodoxy after 1,000 years of "unbrotherly" division, its clandestine purpose was well summed up by Greek Orthodox priest Sidiros, who said the Pope was "not coming here to promote reconciliation, but to promote his goal of world domination. […] He came to subjugate Greece. He wants to become the world dictator of the church."
Well put! The man whose office is historically a symbol of the persecution, torture and murder of Protestants, Jews and Orthodox Christians alike is continuing his farcical global jaunts, posing as the great reconciler and man of peace, while in reality leaving a trail of war and chaos in every land whose soil is kissed by his lying lips. Witness the fruits of his declared 'peacemaking' role in the Middle East since his previous trip there! Truly, "[…] by their fruits ye shall know them." (Matt. 7:20)
The masquerade, however, has been exposed. The Greeks have given Old Papa short shrift, reducing the length of his stay to an absolute minimum. His low-profile reception, accompanied by the soil-kissing ceremony, was largely blocked from view by officials meeting him. The streets of Athens were generally deserted, in stark contrast to the throngs that used to greet him.
Orthodox believers have demonstrated for weeks against the arrival of the man whom they call the "Arch-Heretic" and whom they blame for the Great Schism of 1054 and a variety of other ills, including the Crusades and Inquisition.
Greeks in particular have not forgotten the bloody deeds of the Church of Rome during the Western Crusades, as one of the placards displayed in Athens reminded the world. By means of the Crusades, Rome brutally imposed the establishment of Latin principalities on former Imperial territories and forcibly replaced the Eastern bishops by a Papist hierarchy. The culminating point was, of course, the sacking of Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) in 1204, that contributed to the collapse of the Byzantine Empire about three centuries later, the enthronement of a Latin Emperor on the Bosphorus, and the installation of a Romanist Patriarch in Hagia Sophia.
In a speech delivered to the Pope on May 4, Greece's Archbishop Christodoulos said "open wounds" remained from those times of Vatican violence. He also reminded the Pope of the series of papally sanctioned wars (1096-1291) to recapture Palestine from the Muslims, and, closer to the present day, attacked the Pope for his silence about the plight of the divided island of Cyprus.
Meanwhile, the Balkan countries of Bulgaria and Serbia secured national emancipation with Western help, but the Vatican's hatred of Serbia is still being pursued in the Kosovo conflict of today. Bulgaria may well be the next target.
The Pope's fake apologies were reminiscent of those made during his earlier Middle East trip, but they will deceive no one. It is significant that the sweeping statement of "regret" for "sins of action and omission" against the Orthodox Church – including the sacking of the "ancient centre of Greek Byzantium" – did not blame the Roman Catholic Church itself, but "sons and daughters of the Catholic Church" who "have sinned by action or omission against their Orthodox brothers and sisters".
The Pope's travelling circus continues, but fewer are jumping on the bandwagon. "The Vatican is the house of deception and criminal activity," shouted a Greek Orthodox cleric, Metropolitan Stephanos, through a bullhorn. An accurate exposure indeed!