ZAKYNTHOS, Greece – Defiance against orders to be vaccinated against COVID-19 has led to the suspension of 14 priests on the island of Zakynthos by Metropolitan Dionysios who had warned them.
One was removed permanently from his position and the rest were given until Nov. 27 to be vaccinated or face further consequences, said Kathimerini as some Church leaders are moving against skeptical clerics.
The suspensions, however, upset some of the Metropolitan’s critics and anti-vaxxers who think the vaccines aren’t safe or effective or that they are part of an international conspiracy to alter their DNA or control their minds.
Some residents on the island accused him of “satanic acts” and “illegal and inhumane” decisions for punishing the priests while there is a hard-core element of anti-vaxxers in church ranks.
Earlier in November, the Abbot of the Esphigmenou Monastery on Mt Athos, Vartholomaios, asked for an investigation into clerics at the religious site he said are urging people not to be vaccinated and conspiring against the COVID-19 pandemic fight.
Speaking on public broadcaster ERT Radio, he asked for the intervention as he said that he can’t stand still “when death smells around us, not only on Mount Athos but all over the world.”
That led a prosecutor in Thessaloniki to order a preliminary probe into that accusation about the clerics encouraging monks not to get vaccinated against the Coronavirus, apparently in the belief that God will protect them.
The Abbot said that a scientific and medical issue had been usurped by some clerics he said are “consciously” lying in the name of Mount Athos and even the Monastery of Esphigmenou.
As part of the prosecutor’s investigation, Vartholomaios will be summoned to testify and name those he has referred to in order to determine whether they are disseminating fake news, said Kathimerini, that being an unlawful act.
The monastic state of Mount Athos has been hit by COVID, with several dozen monks falling ill since the beginning of the pandemic and some dying due to complications of the often deadly disease.