After Resistance, Abp. Ieronymos Lauds Greece’s COVID-19 Lockdown

ATHENS – After the Greek Church earlier didn't want Holy Communion nor services included in a lockdown aimed at preventing the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, Archbishop Ieronymos applauded the New Democracy's reponse.

“We ought to say a big ‘thank you’ today, in spite of any hyperbole on either side, for the determination shown by the central administration of our state, the prime minister, the ministers, who acted efficiently and swiftly,” Ieronymos said in an interview with Kathimerini’s Executive Editor Alexis Papachelas, describing the outcome of efforts so far as “praiseworthy.”

Ieronymos said the pandemic created challenges for the Church. “A new world has been born, including how to deal with unemployment, hunger, and poverty,” as the Church had been in the forefront of helping people during a near decade-long economic and austerity crisis with food and other assistance.

He still, however, defended the position of the Church on Holy Communion despite criticism that the ritual, where worshippers sip from the same spoon, can spread the virus, which Church officials disputed despite scientific evidence.

“Without the Holy Communion there is no Church, there is no need (for one),” he said. Asked whether the use of disposable spoons undermines the Church, he said, “It does not because we have another ritual in our Church, from another era, when we did not use a spoon.”

He dismissed a rant from former Metropolitan Amvrosios to excommunicate the government's top officials, including Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis as well as the education and civil deputy protection ministers, saying only the Holy Synod has the authority to excommunicate people.

“(Amvrosios) is not what you would call a misanthrope. But some of his ideas lack seriousness. And they have recently become dangerous,” he said.


Despite being unable to prevent smugglers in Turkey from sending refugees and migrants to Greek islands and the northern land border along the Evros River, Greece has made significant progress in dealing with human trafficking, according to a report by the Council of Europe's Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA).

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