At least 80 have died and at least another 180 have been injured by the wildfires raging in Greece for several days already, making it the deadliest fire on record in Greece. Scores more have fled, and many are desperately searching for their loved ones.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has declared three days of mourning.
Orthodox Christians and people of good will around the world are praying for Greece and the victims, and Orthodox primates and hierarchs have begun sending messages of condolences and comfort to the Church and state in Greece.
Information on donating to help alleviate the suffering can be found at the bottom of this article.
His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens, the primate of the Greek Orthodox Church, has released a statement that reads:
This is an unspeakable tragedy, that the human mind cannot comprehend. My thoughts and prayers are with our fellow citizens who are being severely tested. The Church has already put Apostoli [the Archdiocese of Athens’ charitable organization—O.C.] at the disposal of the state and local governments.
His Beatitude Patriarch Theodoros II of Alexandria writes to Prime Minister Tsipras:
From the Land of the Nile, deeply hurt in soul and heart, we experience the tragic moments which our fellow humans are enduring from the deadly fires in areas of Attica.
At this difficult time of sadness and mourning for all Hellenes, we wish to express our personal sincere condolences, as well as those of all the Greeks in Egypt.
We declare the unwavering support, sympathy and prayers of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, to all the families of the people who are going through difficult times and stand praying beside them.
May the Lord of Life and of death, grant eternal rest to all those who have lost their lives in this tragic manner and offer hope and comfort to those whose hearts are broken and are suffering from the deprivation of loved ones.
His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia writes to Abp. Ieronymos:
It is with pain of heart that I received the news of the death of many people as a result of the fires occurring in Greece. Please accept my deep condolences for this tragedy.
On behalf of the Russian Orthodox Church, I ask you to convey words of support and comfort to the family and friends of those who have perished and of those who have suffered in the fires.
May the merciful Lord grant rest to the souls of His newly-departed servants in His Heavenly mansions, where there is neither sickness, nor sorrow, nor sighing, but life everlasting. I offer prayers for the speedy recovery of the wounded.
He also addressed a similar letter to Prime Minister Tsipras.
An letter of condolence from His Holiness Patriarch-Catholicos Ilia II of Georgia to Abp. Ieronymos of Greece has been posted on the site of the Georgian Orthodox Church, in Georgian.
A press release from the Serbian Patriarchate reads:
His Holiness the Serbian Patriarch Irinej, deeply shaken by the fire that has struck the brotherly Greek people on the peninsula of Attica and has taken dozens of human lives, prays to the Lord to preserve the people in the fire-endangered areas.
The Primate of the Serbian Orthodox Church offers prayers to the Lord that He may encourage the members of the services that have been bravely fighting against the disaster and grant them strength and success in their fight, speedy recovery to the wounded ones, repose to the souls of the victims, and comfort to their relatives.
His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel of Romania writes to Abp. Ieronymos of Greece:
We have learned with great sorrow about the dramatic consequences of the forest fires across the region of Athens, some of the deadliest blazes in the last decade, following which over 50 people were killed and more than 150 injured, some of them being in serious condition.
In these moments of great tribulation, on behalf of the clergy and the believers of the Romanian Orthodox Church we convey condolences to all the bereaved families and pray to our Compassionate God to grant rest to the souls of the deceased.
In addition, we express our compassion and brotherly solidarity with all those who now suffer the consequences of these fires, wishing quick recovery to the wounded.
We have all hope that the Greek people, placed under Your Beatitude’s distinguished pastorship, will overcome these trials by the help of God.
We fraternally embrace Your Beatitude in Christ the Lord.
An article on the site of the Polish Orthodox Church notes that His Beatitude Metropolitan Sawa of Warsaw and All Poland has sent his condolences to Abp. Ieronymos of Greece and to the Greek ambassador in Poland, assuring them of his prayers for all the victims of the fires.
His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of America (Greek Orthodox Archdiocese) also sent letters of condolences to letters of condolence to Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, Abp. Ieronymos, His Eminence Metropolitan Nikolaos of Mesogaia and Lavreotiki, and His Eminence Metropolitan Kyrillos of Kifissia, Amaroussion and Oropos, saying:
I express my sincere condolences to the people of Greece for this unexpected tragedy. As Greek Orthodox in America, we stand by and with our affected brothers and sisters in Greece and we fervently pray to God for the families impacted by this tragic calamity. We hope that favorable conditions will soon be restored for the return of life and progress in the destroyed areas
Abp. Demetrios has also written an encyclical asking the clergy to hold a prayer service this coming Sunday for all of the suffering victims and a memorial service for those who have perished. He also asked all the parishes to take a special collection the following two Sundays to alleviate the suffering in Greece and help those who have lost their home and livelihoods.
Donations can be sent payable to the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America at 8 East 79th Street, New York, NY 10075 with a memo indicating Attica Fires Relief Fund.
Donations can also be made at the site of The Hellenic Initiative, an organization dedicated to providing direct crisis relief to the people of Greece.