Resisting Monks on Mt. Athos Slow COVID-19 Vaccination Drive

The National Herald Archive

Mt. Athos, the unique Monastic Community of the entire world. (Photo: Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America)

MT. ATHOS -- Only some 500 of 4,000 monks on the revered site of Mt. Athos will have received a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of May, health officials said, many refusing, reportedly doubting the Coronavirus exists.

Konsantinos Dokouslis, Director of the regional health clinic at Karyes, told Kathimerini that while, ““There is great interest by the monks in the vaccination” that it’s also been difficult to get up the mountain to reach them.

He also told the paper that there’s some difficulty persuading many of them that COVID-19 is real, despite the death of a number of clerics, and others believe it is “the devil’s work.”

Other religious leaders are trying to persuade them otherwise, the report said.

“If we attribute medical advancements to the devil, the gift given by God to humans for the discovery of healing methods, we are probably committing blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. The Coronavirus is real and so are its consequences” said the canon of the Esphigmenou Monastery, Vartholomaios.

Civil Governor Athanasios Martinos is also reaching out to the doubters and ecclesiastical authorities have praised the doctors and staff of the Karyes Health Center for the organized implementation of the vaccine drive that's ongoing.