Moscow, September 13, Interfax - The Russian Orthodox Church believes the Greek authorities' refusal to issue a visa to Metropolitan Varsonofy of St. Petersburg and Ladoga, manager of the Moscow Patriarchate, is indecent and expects comments on the matter.
"The situation with Metropolitan Varsonofy really went beyond the framework of all decency, and it is broadly discussed even in Greece. If a hierarch of such rank cannot enter the country, while being able to enter any other European state, it's a scandal," Archpriest Igor Yakimchuk, secretary of Inter-Orthodox Relations at the Department for External Church Relations, told Interfax-Religion.
According to earlier reports, Metropolitan Varsonofy has recently been denied a visa for Greece for the first time. The metropolitan was planning to go on his traditional fall pilgrimage to Athos.
There are also many situations when regularly clergymen from Russia cannot get visas for Greece, not even necessarily for pilgrimage, but regular tourist visas, a source told Interfax. Sometimes a priest's family members get a visa, but he does not because he stated his occupation in the relevant column, the source said.
"No one could hardly expect an Orthodox country, which Greece is by its Constitution, to treat a clergyman in this way," the church official said.