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Greece

A Dissident Response to Church and Coronavirus Issues from a Priest in Greece

BOSTON – Father Vasilios Voloudakis, the presiding priest of St. Nicholas of Pefkakia parish in Athens since 1971, discussed his approach to the Church’s experience of the coronavirus in an interview with The National Herald. He strongly criticizes the politicians, the government, and also the Church hierarchy about the closing of the churches during Lent and for Holy Week and Easter.

While his views are extreme, he says they are prompted by calls and emails he has received from those struggling in the absence of access to the Church. “People felt darkness in their souls, they felt gloomy. A bleak time, reminding Eliot’s Waste Land.”

He believes things could have been handled differently. “Is the evolution of the common flu destined to overturn the lives of the whole of humankind,” he asked rhetorically, before comments reflecting common conspiracy theories: “It’s all about a devious political game that’s carefully planned for years by a small group of people who wish to establish a worldwide dictatorship.”

“When the government representatives started talking about how the coronavirus survives on glass and on metallic surfaces I immediately saw where they were going…Even before the lockdown I had warned my parishioners that the government was targeting the reverence of the icons and the Holy Communion.”

Asked if the way of receiving Holy Communion can be changed, Fr. Voloudakis replied, “No way! The way of receiving the Holy Communion cannot be changed…Moreover there is no spiritual reason for going back to receiving the Holy Body and the Holy Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ separately.”

Told of concerns of Greek-Americans the second, third, and fourth generations, including learned scientists, doctors, attorneys, professors, businessmen who say “yes we believe but we have difficulty communing the way Holy Communion is administer with the common spoon,” Fr. Voloudakis declared: “My dear friend, if Holy Communion cannot protect you from contamination, of what use is it to you? The Body and the Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ is the source of eternal life, it provides health of our bodies and souls…So the best solution is that only the true faithful would receive Holy Communion.”

In response to those criticizing him for not obeying his ecclesiastical superiors and government officials, he said, “According to St Ignatius I have the obligation to express fearlessly my opinion because I do not answer only to my bishop on earth but also to ‘the Only and Great Archbishop’ to our Lord Jesus Christ.”

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