Athens, April 29, 2020
The faithful of the Orthodox Church of Greece will be able to return to the Divine services beginning May 17, following the coronavirus lockdown measures regarding places of worship that have been in place in Greece since March 19.
The churches will also open two weeks earlier, on May 4, for parishioners to visit for individual prayers, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced yesterday, reports the Orthodoxia News Agency.
While the churches will open, the participation of the faithful in the Divine Liturgy will still be subject to strict rules to be agreed upon by the Holy Synod and the scientific community, the PM added.
“Allow me to address the Church,” Mitsotakis said, “I thank the Archbishop and the clergy for their understanding and cooperation. Pascha was difficult for everyone this year.”
“But it became clear that it was necessary for all of us. From May 4, the churches will be open for individual prayers, and from Sunday, May 17, the faithful will be able to participate in the Divine Liturgy and other services,” he said.
The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece will meet tomorrow. It is expected that the issue of reopening the churches will be the main point of discussion.
Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and the Eparchial Synod of Crete both earlier requested the immediate opening of the churches, and Metropolitan Hierotheos (Vlachos), the Synodal spokesman, recently expressed his frustration that the Church is being treated as lower than a supermarket or hair salon.
For his part, Metropolitan Chrysostomos of Messinia stressed that the Church has complied with the state’s orders, but now it is time for the state to listen to the Church.
“It is time for the government to listen to the voice of Archbishop Ieronymos and the Holy Synod, as expressed in the letter [of the Archbishop to the PM—Ed.]. We can't close the churches anymore. Believers can no longer refuse to participate in the services,” the hierarch said on Greek television.
The government’s stance has been “not so satisfactory,” he said elsewhere.