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Greek Bishop Says COVID-19 Lockdown Protected Churchgoers

After the Greek Church initially strongly resisted a lockdown that shut churches as part of a plan to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 Coronavirus, Bishop Anthimos of Alexandroupoli said it worked to protect the faithful.

“Both the state and the scientific community made difficult decisions, but they protected us. For the Church, yes! It was not easy to close the churches, but it had to be done,” he said at the end of his sermon May 17, when churches reopened after almost two months, said Kathimerini in a report.

Churches were closed through the April 19 Easter holiday period as part of the lockdown, after clerical leaders insisted they should stay open and that the Holy Communion, where churchgoers drank from the same spoon, wouldn’t be a risk, before relenting.

Bishop Anthimos’ comments came after Amvrosios, the former bishop of Kalavryta, said he had excommunicated Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Education Minister Niki Kerameus and Deputy Minister of Civil Protection Nikos Hardalias over the lockdown.

Ambrosios had earlier denounced Kerameus for “blasphemy” after she said the virus can be transmitted via Holy Communion. The Holy Synod said it has the power of excommunication, not him. 

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