ATHENS – After asking to hold church services during the Christmas period if a second lockdown aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19 is extended, Greece's Holy Synod again said giving Holy Communion is no danger to people using the same spoon.
Church leaders said they support health measures such as wearing masks and staying a safe social distance of at least 1.5 meters (4.92 feet) apart but insisted that long lines of people taking Communion can't spread the Coronavirus.
In a statement after the death of a senior Orthodox cleric in Thessaloniki who had been infected with Covid-19, the Holy Synod described media focus on the Holy Communion as “neurotic,” said Kathimerini.
The Holy Synod, which is the Church’s governing body, attacked “aspiring public opinion leaders (who seek to) impose unscientific correlations regarding the spread of coronavirus in defiance of epidemiological data and who even opine on issues of faith without having any knowledge or competence in the area of theology.”
It added that, “Since the democratic state guarantees religious freedom, they do not have the right to demand that the state ban holy communion as ‘unhealthy,’ just because they themselves choose not to believe,” it said.
The Greek Orthodox Church insists it is impossible for any disease – including COVID-19 to be transmitted through Communion, adding that "it does not transmit viruses, but eternal life,” at odds with science the government has been following and the same spoon being used for multiple users.
The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece asked Mitsotakis to allow church services for 10 days during the Christmas holidays, with a strict adherence to all the necessary health precautions without explaining how that would work at Communion.
The news was revealed by the Metropolitan of Nea Ionia and Philadelphia, Gavriil, a member of the Holy Synod, during a special online broadcast of his church on Facebook, the paper said.
“We see that the mental state of the people being put at risk because of the fear and because of the conditions of the confinement,” which is why the Church of Greece sent the letter to the government, he said. “The relationship with God helps with people’s spiritual and mental strengthening,”he added.
Regarding Holy Communion, he pointed out that this “is a matter of personal faith” and that “it is not mandatory, as no one is forced to participate.”
During a first lockdown in March that held down the number of cases and deaths the Church also demanded the right to keep giving Holy Communion before backing down, agreeing to follow health measures.