The Church delayed in becoming sensitised to the issue of the pandemic. Metropolitan bishops for a long time believed that they and the faithful enjoyed a sort of “immunity” from COVID-19 and that there was no danger of transmission either from crowded churches or the spoon with which Holy Communion is administered.

It took pressure from the scientific community and, unfortunately, the death of clergy, for the Church to adjust to the mundane realities and to comply with public health measures instituted by the government.

Today, the roles seem to have been reversed. Archbishop Ieronymos has said that he will not attend the enthronement of newly-elected Metropolitan bishops due to the surge in cases, and he is urging clergymen and the faithful who have not been vaccinated to do so.

On the other hand, the government has exempted the Church from the venues at which as of 6 November people will have to show a negative COVID-19 test in order to enter. It has cited both “practical reasons” – the difficulty of monitoring churches nationwide – and the inability to raise obstacles to worship.

However, the epidemic right now is raging and scientists are warning that soon there will be 10,000 new infections daily in Greece.

The National Health System is already under enormous pressure. Under such conditions, it is impermissible to allow gatherings in closed spaces such as churches where vaccinated people will intermingle with people who may be carriers because they are unvaccinated.

The state has an obligation to resolve this issue, not because the main opposition is demanding it, but rather because it is necessary in order to protect public health.

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