Breaking from annual traditions, the Archbishop of Greece Ieronymos, the President of Greece Prokopis Pavlopoulos and the Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras all stayed away from Epiphany celebrations at the port of Pireaus today, all seeking to distance themselves from the controversial Metropolitan of Piraeus, Seraphim.
All three leaders took part in other locations throughout Athens. It was also the first time that state-run ERT television network didn’t broadcast the event live on Greek national television, showing celebrations from throughout Greece instead.
Blessings take place throughout Greece but it is customary that the “official” blessing of the waters take place at the port, where members of the Greek navy dive into the water to retrieve the cross. This is the first time in recent memory that the Archbishop, President and prime Minister have been absent from the Piraeus celebrations.
Seraphim made international headlines during the Greek parliament’s debate and eventual passing of laws allowing civil unions for same sex couples. He used his pulpit to claim that the United States, Jews, the Rockefellers, George Soros and other “dark forces” were at work, seeking to undermine Greece’s Orthodox Christian heritage.
He called the government’s actions “criminal” when the bill was passed and leveled harsh criticism against Tsipras and other politicians who voted for the bill, even announcing on December 16th before the vote that he would cut ties with politicians who voted yes.
According to numerous news sites in Greece, the political leadership of the nation was expected to blink– and attend the events and officials from the Metropolis of Piraeus were waiting for them until the last minutes– even saving spots for them on the dais where dignitaries usually stand for the ceremony. A photographer captured an image of a plastic cart with placards tossed off to the side with the names “President of the Republic,” “Prime Minister” and other political figures who stayed away from Piraeus, opting instead to participate in ceremonies elsewhere in Greece.
Seraphim slammed the political leaders of the country for staying away from the Piraeus celebrations in statements to Greek media.