Dirfys-Messapia, Greece; Katun Reževići, Montenegro, March 30, 2020
As quarantine and isolation measures are adopted by states and Churches throughout the world to combat the highly-contagious coronavirus, several clergymen find themselves in trouble with the law for continuing to serve in their churches.
Yesterday, a priest in the Central Greece village of Dirfys-Messapia was arrested for having opened his church and having offered Holy Communion to several faithful in violation of the state’s order to suspend liturgical services, reports ekklisiaonline.gr.
On March 16, the Greek state banned all Church services until March 30, and although the Church petitioned to be allowed to at least serve the Liturgy behind closed doors, the restriction was extended until April 11 yesterday.
A concerned citizen called the 112 emergency hotline, and the priest was arrested and taken to the Messapia Police Department.
On the same day, police detained 11 worshipers and the abbot during the morning Liturgy at Reževići Monastery in Katun Reževići, Montenegro, reports the Montenegro Direct Line Telegram channel.
“’Montenegrin police detained 11 citizens in the Reževići Monastery during the morning Liturgy. The abbot of the monastery, Archimandrite Chrysostom (Nešić) from the Republic of Serbia, was also arrested on suspicion of failing to comply with health standards for fighting the dangerous infectious disease....,’ said the police department,” the Telegram channel reports.
Fr. Chrysostom commented on the situation in a video published by Montenegro Direct Line.
“Today we had a Liturgy and several people came—a pregnant woman with her husband, a woman with young children and several others to pray to God. Then the police came, recorded the names of people and called me in [for questioning—Ed.]. Then they called in the serving priest, Hieromonk Elijah,” said Fr. Chrysostom.
Fr. Elijah will go to court tomorrow despite the fact that Fr. Chrysostom took full responsibility for the incident as abbot of the monastery.
“Pray to God for Hieromonk Elijah, for me, and for those people who will judge us for praying to the Lord Jesus Christ,” the abbot said, stressing that they did not invite the people to come, but that they did not expel those who came to worship.”
Earlier, on March 19, Protopresbyter Momčilo Krivokapić and his son, of Kotor, Montenegro, were taken to the police station for questioning for having celebrated a moleben at which 15 people were present, reports the Serbian newspaper Pravda.
As Fr. Momčilo explained, the moleben to the Most Holy Theotokos has been served every night in Lent in Kotor since the 17th century, when the she saved the city and all of Montenegro from the plague.
“The Most Holy Virgin protected us from that plague and therefore, we are now praying that she will protect us from the plague of this new era,” he explained.
Another priest and three parishioners from Kotor were also summoned for questioning on Sunday for holding a memorial service in a graveyard, according to Balkan Insight.