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Archbishop hails state’s pandemic response

TAGS: Church, Religion, Coronavirus, Interview

Archbishop Ieronymos of the Church of Greece has lauded the level of cooperation with the state amid the coronavirus outbreak that also saw the conservative government impose a lockdown that closed places of worship for about two months, while identifying new areas of opportunity for the Church as a result of the pandemic.

“We ought to say a big ‘thank you’ today, in spite of any hyperbole on either side, for the determination shown by the central administration of our state, the prime minister, the ministers, who acted efficiently and swiftly,” Ieronymos said in an interview with Kathimerini’s executive editor Alexis Papachelas, describing the outcome of efforts so far as “praiseworthy.”

Ieronymos said that Covid-19 generated fresh challenges for the Church. “A new world has been born. [A number of] issues have already surfaced, [such as] unemployment, hunger, poverty,” he said. 

The archbishop defended the position of the Church on Holy Communion despite criticism that the ritual, where worshippers sip from the same spoon, can spread the virus. “Without the Holy Communion there is no Church, there is no need [for one].” Asked whether the use of disposable spoons undermines the Church, he said, “It does not because we have another ritual in our Church, from another era, when we did not use a spoon.”

Ieronymos played down a controversial decision by former Metropolitan Amvrosios to excommunicate the education minister, prime minister and the civil protection deputy minister, saying that only the Holy Synod has the authority to excommunicate people.

“[Amvrosios] is not what you would call a misanthrope. But some of his ideas lack seriousness. And they have recently become dangerous.”

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