ATHENS - The head of the Orthodox Church in Greece, Archbishop Christodoulos, on Monday criticised as "evil" European Union member countries' support for Turkey's membership of the bloc.
EU members in favour of Turkey's accession were "trying to forestall an evil by creating an even greater evil," Christodoulos told a luncheon attended by Greek European Parliament deputies in Athens.
Leaderships supporting Turkey's membership were motivated by "geo-strategic views and foreign interests" alien to European mentality, he added.
Greece itself is a vocal supporter of Turkey's EU accession, despite decades of mistrust and continued rivalry over parts of the eastern Aegean Sea.
The archbishop said that by bringing Turkey into the bloc, the European Union risked severing itself from its core values, which he identified as "Christian faith, classical education and the rule of law".
"We have strayed far from the spirit of the EU's founding fathers, and it is not at all self-evident that the political leadership is still following a course truly heading to European unity," he added.
Fond of commenting on lay affairs, the archbishop frequently makes headlines in Greece with his views on politics, society, and relations with other states.
In a previous outburst during a priest's consecration ceremony in December, he argued that Greek society risked "going to Israel, or into the hands of the devil" because of its apathy in the face of "evil forces" threatening to "dechristianise" the staunchly Orthodox country.
The archbishop also stirred up a storm of criticism five years ago, when he said he had discerned "divine wrath" behind the September 11 Al-Qaeda attacks on the United States.
02/27/2006 15:27 GMT