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Greek Church Defies Governmental Closures

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Astypalaia. Credit: Evans Zet/ Wikimedia Commons/ CC BY-SA 4.0

The Greek Church, after a decision by the Holy Synod, stood defiant on Monday after a governmental decree ordered them to shut their doors in a much stricter enforcement of the coronavirus lockdown measures.
The Holy Synod, the governing body of the Church of Greece, issued a statement today which laid out its opposition to the Greek government’s intentions to impose a stricter lockdown this week, in which the great holiday of Epiphany is celebrated.
All churches and other places of worship will be shuttered in the government’s measure, which is meant to limit the further spread of the coronavirus.
After its Monday meeting, the Synod issued a statement saying that said that its churches would open just as originally planned for the Feast of the Epiphany on Wednesday, celebrating the liturgy and the iconic “blessing of the waters” ceremonies, which are a highly-anticipated part of the celebrations of the day every year.
The Holy Synod stated that it “does not consent to the government’s measures” and continues to insists on the previously-agreed upon plan, which entails, just like during Christmas, churches were indeed open but had only a limited number of parishioners.
The religious body additionally accused the government of failing to consult with it before it handed down the new, much stricter measures on Saturday.
The government for its part had stated that the closures are meant to contain any possible spike in the number of new coronavirus infections which may have been picked up during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
The Greek government still plans to reopen schools across the country later in January.

Greece Responds: “The Law Cannot be Applied at Whim”

In response to the Holy Synod’s decision, the government released a statement Monday evening, stressing that the Church is not exempt from the law:
“The law cannot be applied at whim, so that whoever disagrees with it can just ignore it,” the statement reads.
Greece called on the Church to consider the country’s delicate position in terms of the virus, stressing that the country’s transmission rate must decrease for schools to reopen safely in January: “We trust that the Greek Church will fully comprehend the weight of these critical moments for our society, as the Church has acted with responsibility until today.”

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