Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople on the Egocentricity of Orthodox Christians

Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras I of Constantinople

What have we done? What have we done? Christ has left us. We have driven him away. Our hatreds, our pride, our pharisaical self-sufficiency have driven out the Spirit of the Gospel. And Christ has gone. Christ has gone. Oh, how satisfied we are with ourselves! We are the pure, we possess the truth, and we condemn others! But life and history go on. They are knocking at the doors of the Church, and putting ultimate questions to us. Everything is changing. The scientific revolution is advancing, it is modifying and not only man’s environment, but man himself, his education, the relationship between the sexes, his psychology, and tomorrow perhaps his heredity and character as well. Not that science and technology necessarily build a world without God, as is sometimes said. But they force man, and they will force him more and more to ask where all this is going, what is the meaning of it all, what is the meaning of his own life.

What is most lacking among men of the Church is the Spirit of Christ: humility, selflessness, an open welcome, the capacity of seeing the best in others. We are afraid, we want to hang on to what is over and done with, because we’re used to it. We want to be right over against the others, and under a language of conventional humility we hide the spirit of pride and power. We carry on apart from life. We have made the Church into an organization, just like all the other ones. We have put all our energy into setting it up, and now we put all our energy into keeping it going. And it works more or less; rather less than more, but it works. Only it works like a machine, and not like life.

* Saint Paul’s Greek Orthodox Church

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