THE CATHOLIC CHURCH OF GREECE
Surface area of the country: 132.000 sq.km.
Population: about 11.000.000 inhabitants
Main religion according to Article 3 of the Greek Constitution: “the Oriental OrthodoxChurch” (about 97% of the population) as the Official Church of the State.
There is a Muslim minority of about 150.000 in Thraki (NE of Greece, near Turkey), a small Jewish Community and various Protestant denominations. Numerous sects of American origin are spreading rapidly.
Catholic Church in Greece:
Greeks Catholics number about 50.000 (0,5% of the population)
During the last decades, the presence of foreign Catholics, permanent residents in Greece, has continuously increased, and their number today perhaps exceeds the number of Greek Catholics. The majority is mainly women, spouses of Greeks who have studied or worked abroad, or spouses of Greek seamen etc. Aside from mixed marriages, tourism, as well as the free distribution of citizens of the European Union are likewise causes of increase presence of foreign Catholics.
Apart from permanent residents, there are those who with the passage of time are included completely in the local Catholic Church. Intense, likewise, is the ?temporary presence? of other Catholics who are found in our country as economic or political refugees. (Their residence in Greece oscillates from certain months to several years):
- Polish Catholics actually residing in Greece number about 40.000 - Catholic Filipinos in Greece number about 45.000.
- Iraqis, about 4.000, mainly in Athens
- Albanians (unknown number) all over the country
- Ukrainian Catholics, but also and other faithful from Eastern Europe, Asia
The total population of Catholics in Greece is over 200.000.
The majority of Catholics is established in Athens a city of about four million people.
A large number of Catholics live in the Cyclades, in Syros (8.000) and Tinos (3.000) which have entirely Catholic villages and parishes. There are Catholics in Corfu (2.500), Patras, Thessaloniki (2.000), Giannitsa, Kavala, Volos, and the more distant islands like Rhodes, Kos, Crete, Naxos, Santorini, Samos, Chios, Kephalonia, Zakynthos, etc. There is a Catholic church in Nafplion,
another in Aspra Spitia (near the Aluminum industry of Greece) which might be helpful to the Catholic tourists visiting Greece on their way to Mycenee, Epidavros (Peloponnese), Delphi (Beotia).
In addition to the Catholics of the Latin Rite who represent the majority of the faithful, there are about 2.500 of the Byzantine Rite and a few hundred Armenian Catholics.
The Catholic Hierarchy (Bishops’ Conference) includes six members:
-The Archbishop of Corfu and Apostolic Administrator of Thessaloniki (northern Greece)
-The Archbishop of Naxos-Tinos and Apostolic Administrator of Chios (central and northern Aegian Sea)
-The Archbishop of Athens and Apostolic Administrator of Rhodes (central and southern Greece, and Dodecanese)
-The Bishop of Syros and Santorini and Apostolic Administrator of Crete (south Aegian Sea)
-The Exarch Byzantine Rite (Titular bishop with his seat in Athens) -The Ordinary of the Armenian Rite (seat in Athens)
There are difficulties resulting from the fact that Catholics not residing in Athens are dispersed all over the country. From this dispersion emanates all the other problems that the Church faces today, which, with the presence of many foreigners, seems to change the characteristics of her community much different from the pre-immigration situation which holds a more ?traditional? form. Thus, pastoral problems are created dealing with mixed marriages, assembling children, scattered groups of teenagers and young people for catechism and others. This diaspora, even in large towns, makes the pastoral work of priests and religious very hard. The problem has heightened during the last two decades on account of the decreasing number of priests and religious.
Internet seen as a media resource
According to the letter of Pontifical council for social communications Church and the interntet:
OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES
5. “Communication in and by the Church is essentially communication of the
proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ. It is the proclamation of the Gospel as a prophetic, liberating word to the men and women of our times; it is testimony, in the face of radical secularization, to divine truth and to the transcendent destiny of the human person; it is witness given in solidarity with all believers against conflict and division, to justice and communion among peoples, nations, and cultures”.22
In this light we have given our attention to the continuing development of the internet.
A growing number of parishes, dioceses, religious congregations, and church-related institutions, programs, and organizations of all kinds now make effective use of the Internet for these and other purposes
Recent research in Greece has demonstrated that Greeks take the first place in
the use of mobile phones, but the last place in the use of the Internet. The 85% of population of Greece could not carry on their everyday activities without their mobile. At the same time, however, the users of Internet do not exceed two millions. This fact classifies our country in the last place as internet users in the European Union. (Population: about 11.000.000 inhabitants)
The main reason for the classification of our country in the b9(!) category is probably the prohibitive cost of the internet service.
The simple Internet connection has remained in a steady level for the last three years in Greece. The real infiltration in the Greek households does not exceed 20%, whereas in Western and Central Europe it reaches on the average of 47%!
According to the results of research carried on behalf of the National Network of Research and Technology, the use of computer and Internet in Greece had a marginal decrease in 2004, whereas the possession and use of mobile phones had a dramatic increase in the total of the population! Concretely, in the past year, the use of computer reached 25,9% (against 27,1% in 2003), while the use of Internet reached 19,7% (against 19,9% in 2003). Respectively, the owners of mobile telephones number 85% of Greek population (against 64,7% in 2003). In the marketing companies, the rates of infiltration of computers and Internet are also in low levels (36% and 20% respectively).
So, according to this research we can not be happy with the usage of internet and
computer in Greece. We can confirm this result with our website traffic report:
We notice that the usage by country for the last three months is about 50-50 between visitors from Greece and visitors from all over the world. At this point I would like briefly to give you some information about the technical problems we face with the character encoding. As you might know the Greek alphabet has its own encoding. That’s why our web site is quite difficult for viewing in other counties unless the visitor is familiar with surfing the internet.
What we offer for the moment:
General information about Catholic Church in Greece
Information about our Bishops Conference
A map with the dioceses and information about them
A department for questions and information
Our News department with news from all the dioceses
Links with official sites from all over the world
Caritas Hellas site
In the Greek edition, the site is much richer. We have books, catholic magazines and newspapers in pdf format, a special department including: chat room for the youth, youth magazines, the union of the catholic students etc.
From the usage report, we can note the need of the visitors for news, information, and activities from the Catholic Church. They want to know better and approach the Catholic way of facing the challenges of our times. They are also very interested in our magazines and homilies of our Bishops.
Internet is a cheap mass media. Our local community is a small but active and self confident community. For example we had our presence in the Olympic Village 2004 during the recent Olympic Games. The work of the Caritas and the work of our religious communities are widely appreciated.
Through internet, we promote these activities. The news section of our site is greatly appreciated by our visitors and indicates to us a need for more activities, news, and articles.
Communio et Progressio pointed out that “modern media offer new ways of
confronting people with the message of the Gospel”. Unfortunately the modern
media does not seem to have place in their program for God. That’s why internet proves important in order to bring the message of salvation to all internet users. In this way, everyone who is interested about this message can easily find us, read and learn. This can also be a first approach with the Church for many people who for personal reasons could not have a personal encounter with a Christian community.
Our official site www.cathecclesia.gr, is one site for all the dioceses which we
think covers many activities and programs of the Church: education, news and information etc. Along with opening up channels for the expression of public opinion, we also created a special site for our youth in one hand, in order to make them feel our concern and love for them and on the other hand, to make them come closer to the church’s internet.
We also send a daily newsletter with our news and activities to our mailing list. These newsletters seem to be very effective way of activating more and more Catholics to come closer to the Church, to be in full communion with the life of the Church.
At the same time, we are working on creating cd-rom for catechesis. The youngsters of today are going to become tomorrows adult in a world that internet will be more widespread than in our days.
Another project we are working on is to have our site rebuilt using new technology for a more attractive presentation for the user, involving new chapters such as articles from a catholic point of view for everyday matters, prayers, catechesis, and others.
We don’t have a special office for the internet. The one responsible for its
development is the Press Office of our Conference.
We live in a period of time that information and news, public image, some might say, are very important, particularly in giving a living witness by a strong, young and alive Church. Many people say that the only way to achieve this is through television. But television does not seem interested for the Church or the right use
of her strength for the sake of human development, justice, and peace—for the
building up of the ethics of our society.
Is internet an effective antidote to the wrong messages that emerge from most of the mass media?
From my experience the last four years working with internet, I think that it is a very useful instrument and I think that we are halfway to our target which is a window for God and Church in every pc monitor.