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Church is people

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram Greek Orthodox priest Father Lefteris Tatsis came under scrutiny after an image of the Red Hill priest with four young women, two of whom were baring their midriffs, was posted on the Neos Kosmos Facebook page.No matter what they’re wearing, I’d still take the photo. There’s nothing wrong with it. We should be equal, the boys and the girls.– Father Lefteris TatsisComments under the image ranged from positive to negative, with words such as ‘raunchy’ and ‘disgrace’ being thrown about. Neos Kosmos took the opportunity to speak directly with Father Lefteris regarding the matter, who said he was surprised by the response.“They’re making trouble for nothing. The photographer sent it to me, and it’s a nice photo. Every year there are not only Greeks, but also other denominations that come and take photos with me.” The priest from the Greek Orthodox Monastery of Panagia Kamariani in Red Hill went on to emphasise that regardless of what one is wearing, it is not his role to discriminate. “No matter what they’re wearing, I’d still take the photo. There’s nothing wrong with it. We should be equal, the boys and the girls,” he explained. Father Lefteris made a point of highlighting the fact that the young men taking part in the Epiphany Day tradition and diving for the cross were unclad from the waist up. He says it would be wrong to judge him for taking a photo with the young women wearing beach attire on a warm summer’s day, but not for taking one with the young men with their shirts off. Taking the subject of equality one step further, Father Lefteris took the opportunity to raise the matter of why women do not take part in the Epiphany Day traditions. “A lot of young girls ask me, ‘why can’t we dive for the cross as well?’ And I say ‘it’s not wrong; you can dive to take the cross – I permit it’,” he said, adding that on his island of Chios both genders take part. In his eyes, both males and females “have the same soul, the same heart” and so should all be welcomed and included in matters of the church. It would be fair to say Father Lefteris’ popularity amongst the youth is in large part attributed to his openness and progressive thinking. Ordained at the age of 22, now 73, Father Lefteris has been a priest for more than 50 years and says he has never followed the tradition of extending his hand to be kissed by parishioners, preferring to interact with them as equals. “I’ve been the same all my life; I respect everyone and I love the people. Church is people, not me. If you come up here (to Red Hill) now on the holidays you’ll see so many people attending the church, it’s always open,” he said. Since the photo was published, Father Lefteris says he has been approached by the girls apologising for any negative attention garnered by the image. But he has made it clear there is no issue. “The girls have said ‘sorry Father, we didn’t mean to cause you trouble with the photo’, and I said ‘no, there’s no trouble’. These people that talk negatively are hypocrites. “If you see this photo, it’s beautiful. There’s the cross on one side of the girls and in the other hand I’m holding vasilikos (basil). So what’s wrong?”Related story: Priest photo stirs debatelast_img read more

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