With all the criticism we levy at priests on this site, we’re not above giving credit where it’s due, and Greek Orthodox priest Gervasios Raptopoulos had been doing something truly wonderful for decades now.
In Greece, if you’re convicted of a petty crime (which we’ll say means you’re sentenced to less than five years in prison), you can pay a fine in lieu of going to jail. As is the case with many people convicted of things like minor drug offenses, though, they can’t afford to pay the fines.
… Raptopoulos has devoted his life to paying off the prison terms of penniless inmates.
Gervasios’ charity allocates up to 500 euros ($675) for each prisoner they help, but the amount needed varies.
Sometimes a small sum goes a long way.
“Once, we gave a man 8.5 euros, which was what he lacked to gain his freedom,” he said.
“But in exceptional cases we have gone over our limit, giving up to 10,000 euros (13,500) for one prisoner. He was ill and had many children.”
Because of the recent recession, donations to his charity have plummeted, meaning even more prisoners who commit non-violent crimes are left to fend for themselves. It’s not everyone’s idea of ethical, but if you’re so inclined to support what he does, here’s the charity’s website (in English).
Raptopoulos is clearly guided by his faith, but there’s no reason secular people couldn’t do the same acts of charity.
(Thanks to Scott for the link)