The Church of Greece sought to defuse simmering tensions with the state before they bubbled up to the surface on Tuesday, saying that it would immediately comply with all the measures announced by the government to contain the spread of Covid-19.
The decision came after weeks of foot-dragging and the Church’s apparent inability to fall in line with the government’s measures, mainly due to the difficulty it faced in convincing more conservative clerics that services must be suspended.
On Monday, the Holy Synod decided after what was reportedly an acrimonious five-hour meeting attended by 23 senior clerics to suspend all daily services and sacraments for an indefinite period. But it did allow Sunday congregations, albeit brief in duration, from 7 to 8 a.m.
However, the latter was reversed shortly afterward by the government, which ordered the suspension of all services in all places of worship, regardless of religion or dogma, until March 30, with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis tweeting that “protecting public health requires clear decisions.”
During the Holy Synod meeting, Archbishop Ieronymos sided with the proposal to suspend services to avoid congregations of people.