The compromise of allowing churches to open on important dates during the holidays has averted a serious crisis in Church-state relations. This is where they were headed, even though neither side wants tension.
Now, the unenviable task of implementing what was a political compromise rests with the priests of every parish.
Discussions on the issue were not smooth. Behind the smiles, Archbishop Ieronymos had rejected the government’s initial proposal following the vocal opposition of certain influential bishops.
The government obviously weighed the pros and cons and reviewed its initial decision.
The Church did not, of course, crow about its success. Instead, the Synod extended the Hierarchy’s heartfelt thanks to the government.
The archbishop is indeed very good at maintaining a balance.
The issue now is whether Tuesday’s high-level agreement will make up for the disappointment caused by the closure of churches during first lockdown in spring, when the faithful had to observe Easter from the safety of their own homes, at the encouragement of the Hierarchy, resulting in many feeling cut off from the Church.
The left, the polemic liberals and the anti-clergy right-wingers will certainly oppose the opening of churches, despite the strict restrictions in place. And if, for whatever reason, we see a fresh spike in coronavirus cases around the end of January, the Church will definitely be assigned some of the blame. It is inevitable.
What could have been avoided, though, was the unofficial race of succession triggered after Ieronymos was briefly admitted to hospital last month with Covid-19.
Priests are only human, too, and they have their weaknesses. That said, they should also exercise the restraint commanded by their faith.