Athens, May 12, 2021
Convened yesterday and today under the chairmanship of Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens, the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece decided to launch an investigation into two hierarchs who criticized the Synod’s decision to hold Pascha services a few hours earlier on Holy Saturday evening in order to accommodate the state curfew.
The Synod made an extensive review of the conduct and discipline of all clergy regarding the Synodal decision of April 20 that regulated what time the services of Holy Week and Pascha were to be celebrated. The hierarchs expressed their “sorrow and disapproval” of those cases where clergy intentionally disobeyed the unanimous Synodal decision, according to the Synodal report published by Romfea.
Thus, “after much sorrow,” the Synod decided to ask its Committee for Doctrinal and Canonical Issues to gather files on His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim of Kythira and His Eminence Metropolitan Kosmas of Aetolia and to submit suggestions on how to proceed concerning their letter and other actions by which they “expressed insubordination and disrespect for the unanimous decision of the collegiate governing body of the Church of Greece regarding the extraordinary procedure for the celebration of the holy services due to health restrictions.”
Soon after the Synod’s decision on April 20, the Metropolitans sent a joint letter protesting the decision to celebrate Pascha at 9:00 PM on Holy Saturday, characterizing it as a transgression against Church Tradition. There can be no economia in this matter, the hierarchs wrote.
And at an assembly on April 23, the clergy of the Metropolis of Kythira declared that they could not obey the Synod’s dictate in good conscience, but would instead serve later on the day of Pascha.
“It is with regret” that Abp. Ieronymos and the other Synodal hierarchs acknowledge that Met. Seraphim of Kythira especially, through his latest text to the Synod criticizing its decisions concerning the pandemic, “isolates himself and sets himself apart from the collective effort of the Church of Greece, which as a whole strives and works hard for the unimpeded celebration of the services, as well as for the observance of sanitary measures.”
Met. Seraphim has expressed his displeasure with the state’s and Synod’s decisions throughout the pandemic. In March 2020, he was arrested for defying the state’s order and continuing to celebrate the Divine services. In January of this year, it was reported that he was under investigation for his statements against COVID vaccines, and he has said several times that closing churches only worsens the pandemic.
Met. Kosmas has also spoken out. In September, OrthoChristian reported on his statement against wearing masks in church.
“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 emphasized.
OrthoChristian reported yesterday that several priests from Thessaloniki will stand trial for celebrating Pascha at midnight.