Greek, Cretan Synods call for reopening of churches, one hierarch declares churches open in face of state’s double standard

Athens, April 27, 2020

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Having endured Holy Week, Pascha, and Bright Week with closed churches, the hierarchs of the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece and of the Eparchial Holy Synod of Crete are calling on the Greek state to reopen the holy sites and allow the faithful to return to the Divine services.

Although Crete is a Greek island, the Church there falls under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which has about 50 dioceses throughout Greece.

Following a vote from the metropolitans of the Greek Holy Synod, Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens addressed a letter to Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and six other recipients on Wednesday, April 22, calling for the reopening of the churches, reports Romfea.

Speaking on ANT1’s Good Morning Greece this morning, Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos), the spokesmen for the Holy Synod, explained that the Archbishop is still awaiting a response from the PM.

The content of the letter was not “harsh,” as reported in Greek media, but “realistic,” Met. Hierotheos said. In it, the Archbishop wishes the PM a joyous Pascha and congratulates him on the work done so far. He also refers to the Church’s huge contribution in the fight against the spread of the coronavirus, despite the internal and external difficulties it faces.

Met. Hierotheos also explained that the Archbishop’s letter specifies that the necessary sanitary measures will be observed, including the faithful remaining in the church courtyard in the case of mass gatherings, and churches being ventilated and providing antiseptic.

On Friday, April 24, the hierarchs of Crete also sent a letter to PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Minister of Education and Religious Affairs Niki Kerameus, calling for the reopening of churches, with the observance of the relevant sanitary measures, reports

The decision of the Eparchial Synod of Crete was unanimous.

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Meanwhile, Metropolitan Theoclitos of Stagoi, Kalampaka, and Meteora declared yesterday, April 26, that the churches in his diocese are reopening.

The Greek hierarch expressed his outrage over the double standards of the Greek state after the PM and many others gathered for a concert in Athens the day before, reports Romfea.

“We obeyed the state to ensure the safety of all of us; we took measures, we sealed the churches, we silenced the bells. But yesterday we saw that those who adopted such restrictions, first of all the Prime Minister, gathered with like-minded people and many others to listen to music,” Met. Theoclitos said.

He stressed that the concert took place without security measures or social distancing, while the Church “counted its faithful on its fingers.” Such double standards should not be tolerated, the hierarch believes.

“That is why we are opening our churches starting today, and whoever wants to come—come,” he stated.

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