Priests photo stirs debate

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram A photograph that was uploaded to the Neos Kosmos Facebook page on Wednesday 6 January has caused a stir among readers both Down Under and abroad. The image, taken earlier this week during the Greek Orthodox Epiphany Day celebrations in Rye, features Father Eleftherios Tatsis, from the Monastery of Panagia Kamariani in Red Hill, with four young women by his side. The priest, who has been conducting the blessing of the waters ceremony in the area for some 30 years, is dressed in his robes and accessorised with tinted sunglasses. What appears to have sparked part of the controversy, however, is that two of the young women are pictured baring their midriffs, perceived by some to be inappropriate and provocative. Anna Nouli appeared to be taken aback by the photo, commenting “selfies with the priest! Look at this disgrace!”.Terry Mplios from Melbourne also made his disapproval clear, proclaiming “look at the pagan in all his glory…I can’t see his other hand…”While Melburnian, Helen Pentaris labelled Father Eleftherios a “raunchy priest”, Petros Kalomoiris from Greece directed his comments at the priest himself with words of advice: “Father Eleftherios, a bit of dignity next year wouldn’t hurt.”But the real question that seems to arise at the centre of the debate, is not whether the image is appropriate, but rather how religious figures can remain relevant to the younger generation, particularly if they distance themselves from the realities of mainstream society.Sylvia Sirigos believes it is priests like Father Eleftherios that will keep the Greek Orthodox faith alive amongst younger churchgoers. “For those who find it offensive to see our priest just hanging with today’s generation, seriously there’s something wrong with you!” wrote Ms Sirigos.“Then we wonder why so many young people don’t go to church anymore! We want to encourage our youth to participate in our traditions, not shy them away with the minority … who have some nasty ideas.”A sentiment that emerges from many of the comments, is that what churchgoers seek from their religious leaders appears to have changed. A priest placed on a pedestal results in a figure who is felt to be unrelatable and hence unpopular, which is not the case with priests like Father Eleftherios. For Sydneysider, Sandra Zozokos the photo was refreshing, saying “it’s about time the priests start acting like normal people.”While John Ioannou PI from Balwyn North said “how wonderful it is to see our local priest with the youth of today. Thank God for a visionary priest.”last_img

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