Greek Church Archbishop Urges Vaccinations, Easter Travel Uncertain


His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece. (Photo by Eurokinissi/Christos Bonis)

ATHENS - Facing some resistance within his ow n ranks from clerics who don’t want to follow health measures aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19, the head of the Church of Greece, Archbishop Ieronymos, said people should be vaccinated.

He tried to convince people it was safe and effective after the deaths of some church officials who doubted the pandemic.

“Getting vaccinated… is not only an act of personal responsibility but also an act of Christian solidarity and love for our neighbor,” Ieromymos said in a statement, said Kathimerini of his overture.

“The vaccine offers us an opportunity to bring back normality to our lives and to embrace other people, which we have so dearly missed,” he said.

Ieronymos, who was last year hospitalized after contracting the virus, said clerics should be an example for other people, while criticizing conspiracy theorists for “intimidating our fellow humans.”

That call came as Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that self-test kits being made available to people through pharmacies weekly was another critical tool in beating back Coronavirus.

But he said people shouldn’t become complacent and stay on guard by observing health measures such as wearing masks and staying safe social distances from each other and to avoid any public gatherings.

“We are evidently entering the final albeit most sensitive phase,” he told his Cabinet, the paper said, with hopes an accelerating vaccination program would work after he eased a five-month lockdown.

That was done to partially reopen an economy battered by non-essential businesses being closed more than half the previous 12 years and with restaurants, bars and taverns still shut, many on the edge of extinction.

“We must avoid immoderate decisions that would then force us to take steps backwards,” he said even as the country will open to tourists on May 14 and the government contemplating whether to allow travel domestically for Easter.

“The aim is to achieve a safe Easter and a summer with even more freedom,” he also said.