ATHENS – Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens, leader of the Greek Orthodox Church, will call the Holy Synod together – by videoconference – Jan. 4 to discuss a response to the government keeping churches closed under an extended COVID-19 lockdown.
The New Democracy government’s decision means that the Epiphany, which commemorates Jesus' baptism, will not be celebrated on Jan. 6 and priests will not conduct the customary blessing of the waters, another church loss.
A second lockdown was supposed to end Jan. 7, two months after it began and after already being extended a month because so many people weren’t following health protocols such as wearing masks and staying a safe social distance apart.
The continued closing of churches – which had limited audiences during the holidays – has seen debate in the ranks over whether Holy Communion is safe or should be allowed and with a number of clerics resisting health measures despite that seeing some of them in their ranks die from the Coronavirus.
Until Jan. 11, churches can conduct services only in private and no one else allowed inside although Ieronymos said the Church had adhered to all prober hygienic measures during the Christmas celebrations, said Kathimerini.