Greece, April 22, 2021
The Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Greece decided on Wednesday that Pascha services in all churches and monasteries should begin no later than 9:00 PM on Holy Saturday night in order to allow the faithful to attend the services without violating the state curfew.
The faithful were not allowed to attend the services at all last year.
However, not all are pleased with this compromise solution. Yesterday, the Holy Association of Clergy of Greece issued a press release, emphasizing that, “Once again, we, priests and believers, were surprised by the untrained intervention of the state in purely ecclesiastical matters, and even concerning the heart of Christian worship.”
On the one hand, the Association agrees to holding Holy Week services earlier than usual, but on the other hand tates that “we underline our deep opposition to holding the celebration and Divine Liturgy of the Resurrection during the evening hours of Holy Saturday.”
As the Association explains, its opposition is strictly theological, “as the Resurrection of Jesus Christ did not take place on the Sabbath but on Sunday.”
“We therefore consider this arrangement unacceptable and unchristian—not even for reasons of economy—as it affects the basic parameters of our faith,” the clergy proclaim.
Moreover, the state is guilty of hypocrisy, having stood by idly as large crowds gathered in Greek city squares lately, ignoring the sanitary measures.
“It is unreasonable, if not suspicious,” for the state to focus all of its attention on the Orthodox faithful who meet in the middle of the night only once a year, while “while every night huge gatherings of thousands of citizens, who have undisturbed fun until the morning, have become acceptable.”
The Association hopes that those making such decisions are Orthodox, or at least respect the faith of the people, and “know the religious and wider cultural significance of the days of Pascha for Orthodoxy and Hellenism.” Otherwise, they need to be informed by the Church, “and not make decisions that provoke Orthodox sentiment and offend Christian worship.”
His Eminence Metropolitan Ambrose, the retired hierarch of Kalavryta, also protested the decision via a letter to Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens, calling on the Church to cancel the agreement to hold Pascha services early, which, he writes, “violates canonical Church order.”