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Archbishop’s Hospitalization: Is Greek Church Following COVID-19 Rules?

November 20, 2020

ATHENS – The hospitalization of the Church of Greece's top cleric Archbishop Ieronymos after he was found to have COVID-19 has raised a debate over whether church officials are abiding by health protocols because he also met with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis.

While seated a safe social distance during their meeting they weren't wearing masks at the Nov. 11 meeting that came three days after was announced Ieronymos and members of the Holy Synod were instructed to self-isolate after a senior cleric tested positive for the virus but didn't.

The Archbishop, despite reportedly having mild signs is in a high risk group because of his age, 82, and was being treated in a special care unit for precautionary reasons at the capital's Evangelismos Hospital.

While he advised the public to observe health measures, especially now during a second lockdown aimed at slowing the surging second wave of the Coronavirus, there were questions whether the Church hierarchy was adhering to them.

That was especially some Bishops who reportedly didn't tell health officials they too have been infected which prevented their contracts being tracked and traced by the National Public Health Organization.

“I participated personally as a shepherd in the ordeal that concerns thousands of our brothers in our country and millions throughout the world,” he reportedly told his close associates shortly before his admission.

Mitsotakis didn't go into a self-quarantine after having the meeting although the government said others who come into contact with those infected must self isolate for two weeks..

The Archbishop was admitted to a hospital, days after Metropolitan Bishop Ioannis of Lagadas, 62, an outspoken advocate of allowing Holy Communion despite the risk of spreading the disease through saliva, died from COVID-19. 

The Archbishop of Albania, Anastasios, was also being treated for COVID-19 in the same hospital, after being airlifted to Greece, the cases coming after the Church said critics were being “neurotic” in telling the Church how to deal with the pandemic and not allow Holy Communion for their members.

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