Greece, September 9, 2020
Contradictory views continue to be voiced from within the Greek Orthodox Church concerning quarantine measures and the issue of wearing masks at the Divine services.
Yesterday, on the New Calendar feast of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos, Metropolitan Nicholas of Mesogaia and Lavreotiki told his congregation that there should be no issue with wearing a mask at church.
“It is not blasphemy to use a mask inside a church,” he stressed. “What blasphemy? Judging decisions hardens our souls. Our souls must make peace, and if necessary, the clergy will wear masks too,” he added, reports Orthodoxia.info.
Met. Nicholas earlier took a stand against the closing of churches that took place in Greece in the spring, writing a letter to the Greek Minister of Education and Religion Niki Kerameos, arguing that even the godless soviet authorities in Russia didn’t go so far as to completely prohibit worship even behind closed church doors.
However, addressing his own flock on the feast of the Nativity of the Mother of God yesterday, Metropolitan Kosmas of Aetolia and Acarnania emphatically presented a different opinion concerning masks.
Having preached on the content of the feast, the Metropolitan then called on the faithful to protect their children, pointing to relevant current events.
“We must not lose our faith as Orthodox Christians today, when we see so much happening around us,” he said. “Today we are told to enter church wearing a mask so as not to become infected. Who do we approach when we enter church? A weak man? We draw near to Almighty God.”
“Our forefathers knelt, and prayed fervently in church, and removed pestilence, perils, revolutions, wars, and enemies, and everything. They went to the holy churches, and we’re afraid today to go to our churches because, they say, ‘We are in danger!’” Met. Kosmas emphasized.
“God does not allow you to be infected in church. God does not infect! Let us understand… It is a holy place. ‘The church is Heaven,’ says St. Kosmas of Aetolia. The altar is of God,” His Eminence continued.
The Theotokos is not afraid, and continues to intercede for us, “and we will not go and kiss her icon? They tell us, ‘Don’t kiss the icons.’”
The Theotokos gives us her blessing and the grace of God, working countless miracles through her icons, which we should not be afraid to venerate, Met. Kosmas said, encouraging his flock. Meanwhile, the Church has countless enemies today that reject the grace of God.
School blessings are being held today throughout Greece, Met. Kosmas recalls, and yet, “the Holy Water that works miracles will not be given to children… Children want God’s grace!”
“Dear ones, we are losing our children, we are losing our faith, we are losing our God! Parents need to shout sometime, and all of us. Enough now. An epidemic cannot drive God out of our hearts and drive the Church away from us. The Church has no disease. If they, whoever they are, want to live differently and do not know the grace of God, let them go to find those they love. We belong to Christ and we believe in Christ. Let us strengthen our faith and not be ungrateful to God,” Met. Kosmas preached.
The hierarch concluded calling on his flock to imitate the faith and obedience of the Mother of God and to not keep children away from the grace of God. “Because with everything that’s happening, we turn them away from Christ and the grace of God.
Similarly, Metropolitan Neophytos of Morphou of the Cyrpiot Orthodox Church recently called on parents to homeschool their children rather than give in to the fears and hysteria surrounding the coronavirus.
The hierarchs’ words also reflect the concerns of many parents in Greece, where thousands have gathered in rallies throughout the country, protesting the mandatory use of masks in schools, under the slogan: “Hands off our children.”