Greek Bishop Asks Why Churches Won't Reopen Yet

Αssociated Press

A man walks in front of the Athens Orthodox Cathedral which remains closed to the public, in Athens, on Saturday, April 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)

Bishop Ierotheos of Nafpaktos said he was disappointed that reopening churches wasn’t yet part of a New Democracy government plan to gradually lift a lockdown aimed at preventing the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus.

He told SKAI TV there was frustration in the Church after leaders agreed to close after initially resisting being shut down and saying that letting people take Holy Communion wouldn’t spread the highly contagious virus.

“After all, what is the Church for (the government)? What is the Church, is it a union, is it a supermarket? Is it worse than a supermarket? Is it worse than a hairdresser?” he said.

“What is the Church? Isn’t it a divine organization that has a 20-Century tradition?” Ierotheos asked.

Government spokesman Stelios Petsas said that services for the public at churches would restart gradually as a request by Archbishop Ieronymos for them to reopen now would not be approved.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said there will be gradual and staggered reopenings of stores, business, services and other institutions shut on March 23 with the first phase coming May 4, with the churches not on the list yet.