A Greek priest expelled several faithful who were not wearing masks from the church of Agios Nikolaos in Flario, Kalamata, during a liturgy on Christmas Day.
“Play objector in your home, not here,” were the caustic words of the priest who interrupted the Divine Liturgy to warn the people who were not complying with the Covid-19 measures imposed on the nation.
After hearing objections from those who refused to comply, the priest then said: “We will not start a dialogue. Those who do not wear a mask should leave. Respect your fellow human beings and the law.”
The video of the Flario priest quickly went viral on Greek social media.
Limited number of faithful in churches
The current measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in churches are strict, making this year’s Christmas holiday the most unique in recent decades.
First of all, churches will be open only three days during lockdown: For Divine Liturgy on Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Epiphany, on January 6, 2021.
Also, only up to 25 believers will be allowed during any service, with the stipulation that only one parishioner will be allowed per 15 square meters (161 square feet).
In big metropolitan churches the number can be as high as 50 parishioners, provided of course that this is determined by the size of the church.
Before the measures for churches were announced, there were reactions among clergymen arguing against the closing of churches during the Christmas holiday.
However, after discussions with the government, the Holy Synod issued an official statement recognizing the Prime Minister’s responsible stance during the pandemic.
The statement said that the Holy Synod respects the measures for the prevention of the spread of Covid-19 that put human life and health as the utmost priority.
Metropolitan takes vaccine first in symbolic gesture
Ierotheos, the Metropolitan of Nafpaktos, was the first among all the clergy of Greece to be inoculated with the Covid-19 vaccine on Sunday — the first vaccination day — at Evangelismos Hospital, in a deeply symbolic gesture.
Ierotheos’ decision to be inoculated with the vaccine was symbolic in many ways.
First, Ierotheos wanted to put an end to the misconception that clergymen and others who are deeply religious are somehow immune to the virus because they are protected by God. Unfortunately, that had been the belief of many churchgoers in the beginning of the pandemic.
Second, when vaccinated, Ierotheos was representing Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, Ieronymos, and essentially the entire Church of Greece.
Third, Ierotheos’ vaccination sent a strong message to all Greek Orthodox faithful about the need for vaccination for the whole flock.
It should be noted that the last name of the male nurse who gave the vaccine to the Metropolitan was Theoulis, meaning “little god” in Greek. A divine sign, perhaps?
Along with his gesture, the Nafpaktos Metropolitan issued a statement saying that the pandemic is a “war that must be fought with medication, vaccines and medical care.”
Ierotheos called on all citizens to fight in this battle, which is being fought in hospitals, homes, schools and society in general.