NICOSIA — Clerics on Cyprus who advise churchgoers not to be vaccinated against COVID-19 will have their pay cut and could be removed if the continue preaching that practice, said Archbishop Chrysostomos.
“The pandemic is neither a church issue nor a spiritual one – it is a medical issue,” he told state broadcaster, CyBC, adding that some clerics are completely “off subject” by claiming vaccines go against the teachings of the saints.
He said that the Church of Cyprus isn't big enough to disagree with the world's medical and scientific community as the Holy Synod reiterated its support for vaccinations to try to slow the pandemic.
But there are resisters in the church, particularly Morphou Bishop Neophytos, who recently recovered from the Coronavirus but still said people shouldn't be vaccinated to protect themselves, The Cyprus Mail noted.
Several priests in Morphou communities continue to preach against vaccinations in their sermons, further worrying church leaders who have done nothing about it other than issue warnings to stop, which go unheeded.
Chrysostomos said complaints have been forwarded to the Holy Synod’s secretary, who will be contacting those involved to give them a chance “to apologize to both the Synod and the public they misled and express a different opinion” before he thinks of acting.
“If they show remorse, the Church will forgive but if not, they will not be paid at the end of the month,” he told Alpha TV.
“The Synod was crystal clear the other day; whoever violates the mandate will be punished with salary cuts – and this applies to everyone, including me,” but he's still reluctant to pull the trigger on the resisters.
As for Bishop Neophytos, who dismissed his illness after he recovered, the Archbishop said that, “Everyone can do what they want, as long as they don’t mislead others and go against the teachings of the Synod,” which means they can't do what they want.
“If he doesn’t want the vaccine, let him not get the vaccine. If he wants to die, let him die, but there is no reason why he should be able to mislead others, risking more victims,” said Chrysostomos.