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Elder Paisios




The publicity given the child sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church has obscured the fact that other religions, including Orthodox Judaism, share some of the characteristics that lead to abuse: an “aloof patriarchy, an insularity verging on superiority, [and] a disinclination to get secular officials involved.” Prominent Yeshiva University scholar Rabbi Herschel Schachter was recorded saying Jewish communities should set up their own review boards to evaluate complaints of child sexual abuse and decide whether to bother with the police, which contradicts state laws mandating that teachers, counselors, physicians, and others report such complaints. Schachter warned against reporting abuse because the accused might be put “in a cell together with a shvartze [a racist term referring to blacks], a Muslim, a black Muslim who wants to kill all the Jews.” (The New York Times, 7/22/13) [IT 5.1 2014] 

Believers say that the vision of the late Orthodox Christian mystic Elder Paisios—who saw “great disruption and confusion” followed by hunger and political turmoil—was a prescient, Nostradamus-like glimpse of the current situation in Greece. The monk has become a popular sensation: Hundreds of pilgrims kneel at his shrine—he died in 1994—and ask for help finding jobs, paying bills, and surviving. Bookstores stock dozens of Paisios-related titles; there is even a Paisios diet guide as well as a children’s book. Newspapers carry accounts of his miracles, and even nonbelievers are caught up in the craze. A former military officer visiting the shrine remarked, “He foresaw the crisis. But he also said it would get better, that we will overcome and that prosperity will return. He helped a lot of people.” A local university sociologist said, “Figures like Paisios represent the shaman, the magician of the tribe. They are the incarnation of a transcendental, invisible power.” A particularly resonant Paisios prophesy declares, “The people will be so disappointed by the politicians of the two big parties that they will get sick of them.” He also believed that a cabal of five people secretly rules the world, and he predicted that Greece would defeat Turkey, rule Constantinople [Istanbul], and take part of Albania. (Wall Street Journal, 12/3/12) [IT 4.1 2013]