Mesogaia, Greece, March 31, 2020
Despite petitions coming from the Greek Church, the state authorities have completely banned all Church services, and even extended the prohibition beyond the original date of March 30 to April 11.
Nevertheless, not all hierarchs are taking the prohibition sitting down. His Eminence Metropolitan Nektarios of Corfu has even gone so far as to urge the faithful to go outside “to exercise” and to go to church and receive Holy Communion, despite the ban.
And in a letter to the Greek Minister of Education and Religion Niki Kerameos, His Eminence Metropolitan Nikolaos of Mesogaia and Lavreotiki emphasized that even the godless soviet authorities in Russia didn’t go so far as to completely prohibit worship even behind closed church doors, reports Romfea.
His Eminence begins by emphasizing that he represents no one but himself in his letter, although his views are, in fact, shared by many of his fellow citizens. Thanking the Greek government for its care for the people, he then notes that he would like to contribute to the dialogue between the Church and state.
“I believe that this decision of the government, which bears your own signature, violates what is said about the distinct roles between the Church and the state,” the hierarch writes to the Minister.
“A prohibition against worship God has never been implemented even by officially-recognized atheistic regimes, with the exception of Enver Hoxha in Albania,” Met. Nicholas writes, recalling that even the soviet regime, which famously destroyed thousands of churches, did not outright forbid the worship of God “behind closed doors.”
“The soviet regime fought against religion, drove out the Church, destroyed churches, and killed clergy, but it did not forbid worship behind closed doors. Our government has done this,” the Greek hierarch laments.
He notes that other states where the Orthodox Church is prevalent, including Cyprus and the Slavic countries, have not gone so far as to order the closure of the churches.
Last week, the Georgian Church issued a strongly-worded statement, calling the closure of churches an “unjustified offense against God.”