The surging popularity of Golden Dawn (Chrysi Avgi) has prompted expressions of both support and opposition from representatives of the Greek Orthodox Church.
Members of ultra-nationalist party Golden Dawn recently protested against the performance of Terrence McNally's controversial play Corpus Christ in Athens. Golden Dawn MP Ilias Panagiotaros denounced the play as "blasphemous."
Golden Dawn also advocated for and supported the arrest of a 27-year-old Greek man for blasphemy following Facebook comments they deemed "abuse, mocks and tries to humiliate the sacred form of the Greek Orthodox, Elder Paisios."
Golden Dawn support patriotism, nationalism and the Greek Orthodox Church. Members of the church have now begun to speak publicly about the party, with church representatives divided in their opinions.
According to Gr. Reporter Metropolitan Pavlos of Siatista has received threats from Golden Dawn after describing the party as "uncivilised" when it protested the McNally play. He took a clear position, saying, "We all have to take a clear stand on the Golden Dawn issue… we have to preach the word of God, which has nothing to do with the acts committed by members of Golden Dawn."
Protho Thema reported the Metropolitan Ambrosius of Kalavryta issued a 13 point statement expressing friendly feelings towards Golden Dawn. He said, "I can not understand how and why the ideas of the Golden Dawn are subversive," as he questioned why the dangerous ideas of SYRIZA and the KKE (Communist party) and not considered subversive.
Ambrosius went on to say that the "treacherous media....project and magnify any excesses of Golden Dawn" whilst remaining silent on the exploits of SYRIZA, recalling the hooded anarchists responsible for burning the Athens bank, resulting in the deaths of three bank employees.
Even as Ambrosius stressed "as Bishop, I have the right to belong to a political party of the entire political spectrum, from the far left to the far right" other Bishops spoke out against the political involvement of the church. Ethnos reported Archbishop Jerome of Athens declared the church does not allow any political party, left or right, to take its support. He also sent the clear message that "the Church does not need protectors and saviors."
Golden Dawn released a statement saying it had never taken on the "role of protector of the Church."