Sparking controversy, the ruling body of the Orthodox Church of Greece issued a statement on Monday saying that the coronavirus cannot be transmitted through holy communion as the “faithful of all ages know that even in the midst of a pandemic, it is both a practical affirmation of self-surrender to the Living God and a potent manifestation of love.”
“For the members of the Church, attending the Holy Eucharist… certainly cannot be a cause of disease transmission,” the Holy Synod said.
However, at the same it also urged people to observe the health and sanitary precautions prescribed by the Health Ministry, prompting criticism that it was contradicting itself.
The Holy Synod further decided that informative leaflets containing the safety measures outlined by the Health Ministry will be handed out to church congregations across the country.
The Geek federation of hospital doctors has stressed that no exception “for religious, sacramental or metaphysical reasons” should be made to state health warnings to please the Church.
The statement by the Holy Synod sparked a wave of reactions, as well as calls for legal action to be taken against the Church as its stance was deemed unscientific and as endangering public health.
However, legal experts told Kathimerini that litigation against the Holy Synod on these grounds would not produce results.