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Outcry after Bishop forbids religious services at teenager’s funeral

The refusal of a local Bishop to allow the religious funeral service for a 17-year-old girl has triggered outrage in the community of Mohos, Stalida, but also beyond Crete.

High school student Nikoleta lost her life last Thursday when she fell from a 50-meter-high bridge on the VOAK highway by Heraklio under circumstances that have not been fully cleared, so far.

Police officers and the coroner’s declared that it was a suicide and the girl was led to her final home on Saturday.

Family, community furious at local bishop

However, her family, relatives, friends and the whole community of Mohos was shocked to find out at the funeral on Saturday that the Bishop of Petra and Herronissos Gerasimos had forbidden to priests to perform the religious rituals for the funeral claiming the Greek Orthodoxy forbids them for those who had committed suicide.

He had even sent an employ from the Metropolis to watch out that his order was followed by the book, MEGA TV Live News magazine reported on Monday.

“How is it possible that the Church deals in such a way such a tragedy?” an aunt of the girl told local flashnews.gr

The Bishop’s decision triggered social outcry and fury with many describing it as “particularly harsh” and arguing that the Church ought to stand by the family in such difficult times, to support them and give them courage, local media cretalive.gr reported.

“Such attitudes drive people away from the Church,” the report added.

Speaking to the same media, Bishop Gerassimos  claimed more or less that “it is up to God to decide when a life is over.”

However, several people with knowledge on the matter said that in most such cases, “a formula is being found to relieve the family’s pain.”

Nikoleta’s family has been disputing the version of a suicide saying that the girl was standing at the railing and maybe got dizzy and fell.

Θεία 17χρονης στο Ηράκλειο: «Ήταν ένας άγγελος – Δεν το έψαλαν το παιδί μας όπως έπρεπε»

The girl was returning home from school on foot and not on the bus as usual.

Speaking to media, Nikoleta’s classmates gave conflicting statements with some saying that she left the school “crying” and others to claim the opposite.

Victim of bullying

Classmates, her older sister and her family agree, though, that she was victim of bullying not only by some other children but also by a teacher who is allegedly also a priest.

Her sister said she was also victim of bullying when she was younger because their mother was not Greek.

The family’s lawyer said that there is no official report on Nikoleta’s death.

Greek Police is reportedly to investigate the bullying complaints.

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6 comments

  1. “Classmates, her older sister and her family agree, though, that she was victim of bullying not only by some other children but also by a teacher who is allegedly also a priest.”

    And the church apparently bullies her now in death as well. The priests had better be careful for Jesus said “What you have done to the least of me, you have done to me”.

  2. Condolences to the family of the young girl and shame on the Church for their Neanderthal views. The Geek church has far too much to say in all facets of life here in Greece.

  3. I meant to say Greek church but maybe my typo was correct in calling them Geeks

  4. This behaviour by the Greek Church is not isolated to a bullying priest.
    My late mother-in-law suffered broken wrists by the Catholic nuns at her school many years ago in England.
    As a consequence, she refused to have her children baptised within the Catholic Church and turned to the Church of England where tolerance is the norm. The Catholic priest told her that all her children were ‘bastards’ as she had married outside the Catholic faith.
    Religion? Opiate of the masses.

  5. I have always understood that the vast majority of Orthodox priests and bishops take a merciful view of possible suicides. My own priest and Bishop Kallistos Ware both said the same, that only God knows what was in the mind of the deceased in the seconds before death. Maybe it was a cry of repentance and wish for forgiveness. In that case, God always forgives and the “suicide” would still go to heaven. Mercy should always be shown, particularly to the young and vulnerable.