ARCHBISHOP GREGORIOS OF THYATEIRA AND GREAT BRITAIN’S ENCYCLICAL
28th October 1940
Dearly Beloved in the Lord,
One again Greek Orthodox Christians around the world are celebrating the anniversary of the 28th October 1940. 73 years on, this event remains significant not only for Greeks, but for all civilized society. But for Greeks in particular 28th October 1940 continues to be a monumental event in Hellenic history. It is therefore appropriate that we should commemorate this event and pay tribute to its heroes and protagonists. Thanks to them, the Greek people awoke from the slumber of internal conflict and party politics which led to the dictatorship of John Metaxas on 4th August 1936. Their victory showed the world the greatness of the Greek nation and a spirit patriotism, heroism and self-sacrifice, something which even the greatest enemies of Greece would praise. The then Prime Minister of Greece, John Metaxas, foresaw the coming storm of fascism and Nazism, and took practical measures to arm and defend Greece. Thus Italy’s demand for Greece’s subjugation and its unjustifiable attack upon Greece by Mussolini’s troops in the small hours of 28th October 1940 were overcome on the snowy mountains of the Northern Epirus in Southern Albania.
It is the great achievement of the Greek army and all the Greek people who wholeheartedly took part in that titanic struggle until April 1941 that we have been dutifully celebrating every year for more than six decades. Today, both Greece and Cyprus are under great economic strain, and many of their people are compelled to abandon their homeland to find a better fortune abroad, including the United Kingdom. They are turning to us to assist them, to help them find work, and to settle into our communities and churches. Our clergy, lay leaders and every one of us ought to respond to their needs and to this humanitarian and patriotic call to duty with enthusiasm and active love. This is what the Greek people did during that terrible period of the Second World War. With the immortal and emphatic “NO!” of Metaxas, with one voice and one heart they all committed themselves to the great and harsh battle of life and death to defend their country, to safeguard liberty and to uphold the honour of the name of Greece.
We today must continue our historic path, inspired by the sacrifices and struggles of the heroes of 1940. Let us pray especially for Greece and Cyprus that our people may not lose hope. The customary presentations and celebrations for this event will be held once again in our Greek and Sunday schools, and other institutions. Prayers will be offered for the fallen of 1940-41 in our churches, while our schools and associations will hold events to strengthen the patriotism of our children and young people. I should remind you that the history of a nation is an inspiration for our youth, and it fosters faith and tradition and the great ideals which reinvigorate our sacred ambitions and the virtues of selflessness, heroism and love for all those things which nurture society, teaching it the values of democracy, peace and justice in the world. As St Paul characteristically writes: “Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy – meditate on these things.” (Philipp. 4:8)
Wishing you all a happy winter and health and strength to continue labouring for virtue, freedom, justice and the good name of our nation, and I hope that your children will take part in the local events commemorating 28th October 1940, I remain with love in the Lord and esteem.
28 October 2013
Gregorios, Archbishop of
Thyateira & Great Britain
Note: To be read to the Congregation in place of a sermon on Sunday, 27 October 2013.