ATHENS – The Church of Greece has resorted to handing out pamphlets to convince resisting clerics the more than 1 1/2-year-long COVID-19 pandemic that has killed 12,851 people – and counting – isn't a hoax and that they need to be vaccinated.
Some reportedly believe it's tied to the devil – citing the satanic number 666 – and Church spokesman Bishop Athinagoras said conspiracy theories are circulating among priests and parishioners about mysterious microchips and barcodes.
Those are among the most popular reasons that anti-vaxxers cite in their belief that the vaccines that are saving lives and driving down the number of case and hospitalizations is a international conspiracy by governments and pharmaceutical companies to alter their DNA and control their minds.
They didn't say why that didn't begin until 2020, when the pandemic broke out, and not earlier if is a worldwide plot to control the population, which doesn't seem to be working.
He told SKAI TV the Church is requiring clerics to read out a circular at Sunday services on July 25 in favor of vaccinations and that skeptical priests met with noted epidemiological diseases Prof. Sotiris Tsiodras to explain their resistance.
Tsiodras, a physician and member of the government's advisory committee, was a soothing voice and presence on TV in the early days of the pandemic as he explained the seriousness of the pandemic.
He met the clerics and “answered them all in good spirit and simple language without many scientific terms,” said Bishop Athinagoras.
The spokesman said the circular will include 12 questions and answers about the vaccines but didn't say what would happen if some clerics refuse to read it. Early in the pandemic, the Church leadership itself said taking Holy Communion from the same spoon wasn't a danger despite scientific evidence it was.
“Christians should not worry as from the moment they are baptized and anointed no chip can control them,” he said, adding that the vaccination circular which will be read out in churches “will point out that science and medicine are a gift from God to man,” to protect them.