Greece’s Orthodox church tells priests to IGNORE a week-long lockdown of places of worship

Greece’s powerful Orthodox Church is rebelling against a government order to briefly close places of worship under a week-long drive to tighten virus restrictions before the planned reopening of schools.

The conservative Church’s ruling body issued a statement Monday directing priests to admit worshippers during indoor services for Wednesday’s feast of the Epiphany. 

The Holy Synod said it ‘does not accept’ the new restrictions, in force from January 3 to January 10, and would send a letter of protest to the center-right government. 

Greece's powerful Orthodox Church is rebelling against a government order to briefly close places of worship. Pictured: A worker disinfects a church in Thessaloniki in March 2020

Greece's powerful Orthodox Church is rebelling against a government order to briefly close places of worship. Pictured: A worker disinfects a church in Thessaloniki in March 2020

Greece’s powerful Orthodox Church is rebelling against a government order to briefly close places of worship. Pictured: A worker disinfects a church in Thessaloniki in March 2020

After Greece saw a spike of new COVID-19 infections and deaths in November, authorities imposed a second lockdown which closed schools and retail businesses.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he was forced to act after a spike in cases left intensive care units bordering on full capacity. 

He said that without a second lockdown pressure on the country’s healthcare system would be ‘unbearable’.  

The measures were partially relaxed before Christmas, when churches and nonessential shops were allowed to resume some activities – albeit with limitations – together with hair salons and nail parlors.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he was forced to act after a spike in cases over the past five days, saying that without a second lockdown pressure on the country's healthcare system would be 'unbearable'

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he was forced to act after a spike in cases over the past five days, saying that without a second lockdown pressure on the country's healthcare system would be 'unbearable'

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said he was forced to act after a spike in cases over the past five days, saying that without a second lockdown pressure on the country’s healthcare system would be ‘unbearable’

All these have now been closed for a week as authorities hope to contain the virus spread so schools can reopen on January 11 after a two-month hiatus. 

Priests are allowed to conduct Epiphany church services, but without admitting worshippers.

Monday’s Holy Synod statement said the government should stick to the Christmas relaxation, which had followed negotiations with the Church, arguing that clerics had faithfully observed all agreed pandemic containment measures over the holidays.

Greece saw a spike in coronavirus cases in November, with 2,673 confirmed cases at its peak. This figure has since decreased during the second lockdown, with 663 new confirmed cases yesterday. 

The country also had 100 confirmed deaths a day as a result of coronavirus in early December – but yesterday 50 deaths were recorded.  

The capital's usually bustling streets were quiet on Saturday with residents only being allowed to leave their homes for specific reasons

The capital's usually bustling streets were quiet on Saturday with residents only being allowed to leave their homes for specific reasons

The capital’s usually bustling streets were quiet on Saturday with residents only being allowed to leave their homes for specific reasons

But a conservative bishop made headlines shortly after Christmas by railing against the vaccines, telling parishioners he had been informed that they included material harvested from aborted fetuses. Pictured: An elderly woman applauds during a vaccination at a nursing house in Athens today

But a conservative bishop made headlines shortly after Christmas by railing against the vaccines, telling parishioners he had been informed that they included material harvested from aborted fetuses. Pictured: An elderly woman applauds during a vaccination at a nursing house in Athens today

But a conservative bishop made headlines shortly after Christmas by railing against the vaccines, telling parishioners he had been informed that they included material harvested from aborted fetuses. Pictured: An elderly woman applauds during a vaccination at a nursing house in Athens today

Church functionaries have shown a mixed response to pandemic containment measures, largely ranging from lukewarm support to virulent opposition. 

The Church’s moderate leader, Archbishop Ieronymos – who himself contracted and recovered from COVID-19 – has backed the country’s ongoing vaccination drive. 

But a conservative bishop made headlines shortly after Christmas by railing against the vaccines, telling parishioners he had been informed that they included material harvested from aborted fetuses.

Monday’s Holy Synod statement urged the European Union leadership, and the Greek government, to ensure that ‘the necessary number of approved vaccines is immediately secured for citizens.’   

Link hienalouca.com

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