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Greek Church Leaders Unhappy With COVID-19 Limits on Attendants

December 14, 2020

ATHENS – Trouble is brewing in the Greek Church over the New Democracy government's COVID-19 lockdown protocols that will allow services only for Christmas and Epiphany Day on Jan. 6, 2021, limiting on many are allowed.

Only nine can be in churches and 25 in metropolitan cathedrals, raising the question of what will happen if that's defied, especially with the annually televised service at the main cathedral in Athens, attended by politicians.

The government also banned the sanctification of water in an open public space, prohibiting the dive for the cross on Epiphany Day that is a treasured tradition for the Church and faithful.

“I think that some people are handling issues without knowing the reality or don’t want to see it,” said Dimitriada’s Bishop Ignatios, among many clerics who said the measures were too tough, said Kathimerini.

But he said the clergy would abide by Holy Synod which was due to meet on Dec. 15. “We will wait for its decisions,” he told Tachydromos newspaper.

despite tension over whether Holy Communion is safe, the Church of Greece has accepted a second lockdown aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 but Bishops are said to be resisting the measures.

There's tension in the Holy Synod over the tightened health measures with a number of the rebellious clerics accusing Archbishop Ieronymos and the hierarchy of being “too mild,” in its response, said Kathimerini.

The Bishops of Mesogeia and Kalavryta are among those who don't want the Church to follow the protocols, accusing the government of “policing worship” and saying that “closed churches are a threat to the faithful.”

That's contrary to the position adopted by Archbishop Ieronymos –released from hospital after battling COVID-19, who said he wants a “cautious reopening” of churches and strict adherence to public health rules.

The second lockdown began Nov. 7 and was supposed to lift Dec. 1 but was pushed back to Dec. 7 and now to Jan. 7, 2021 after the second, more lenient lockdown, failed to hold down the number of cases, deaths and people in public hospital Intensive Care Units (ICU’s) on ventilators needing constant care.

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