During a service in St. Peter’s Basilica on Sunday, Pope Francis faced a heated exchange with a Greek Orthodox cleric. Alexi-Lutulakos Petros, leader of the Union of Church Clergy of Greece, had turned to greet the pope with his hand outstretched as usual. But as soon as he did, a monk in a purple robe with his back to the pope pushed him back.
As the clip below shows, after a moment of deja vu, the priest addresses the pope in the very same way he always does — with his hand outstretched:
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Then, out of nowhere, a man clad in a purple robe with his back to the pope begins yelling. He does not stop speaking until the pope approaches him and tells him to sit down. At that point, people cheer, and the exchange ends.
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The man’s name is Alexi-Lutulakos Petros, and he’s a founder of a group called the Union of Orthodox Clergy of Greece. He was caught on video by The Greek Orthodox Church’s St. Andropoulos Weekly Magazine — part of the newspaper on which I work. The video has also appeared on Greek television news channels.
Petros has in the past expressed his anger over the pope not marrying as a bishop — as Greek officials requested. In fact, the Vatican’s newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, had previously run a story about Petros urging Benedict XVI to marry during his time as pope in 2008, and Petros also claimed that there is a 50 percent chance that Pope Francis will marry.
Petros had also criticized the Pope over Sunday’s service, saying that the death of 20 people in a bus fire in Greece last week was not “even symbolic,” as the church had requested.
During Sunday’s service, a Greek Orthodox cleric gathered on the steps of St. Peter’s Basilica chanted chants and called Francis a “faggot” for the Pope not being fully Christian in his views, as an Associated Press report said.