Greece’s Orthodox Church rejects criticism of Communion safety following Bishop’s death

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Greece’s Orthodox Church on Monday condemned as misplaced and “neurotic” criticism of the pursuit of Holy Communion which has been banned in the presence of the public during virus lockdown curbs.

The Holy Synod, the church’s ruling body, said it had cooperated with the state from the beginning of the crisis and complies with health measures.

The church insists it is impossible for Covid-19 or any disease to be transmitted through Communion, the tradition of handing out bread soaked in wine from the same chalice.

Doctors and experts say the virus can be transmitted through saliva.

Priests wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus, attend the funeral of senior clergyman Ioannis of Lagadas. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)

The government this month ordered the suspension of all services at all places of worship, for all religions in the presence of the faithful. The services continue to take place, but only with the priests who perform them.

The synod statement follows the virus death over the weekend of a senior Orthodox cleric in Thessaloniki, northern Greece, Orthodox cleric in Thessaloniki, northern Greece.

It was a response to the “ironic comments” made by some media regarding his faith in Communion, “as if they had evidence on the cause of the transmission of the disease”, the synod said.

“Aspiring public opinion leaders neurotically insist on engaging exclusively in Holy Communion and impose unscientific correlations regarding the spread of coronavirus … even opine on issues of faith without having any knowledge or competence in the area of theology”, the statement adds.

Priests wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus, attend the funeral of senior clergyman Ioannis of Lagadas. (AP Photo/Giannis Papanikos)

“Since the democratic state guarantees religious freedom, they do not have the right to demand that the state ban holy communion as ‘unhealthy’ just because they themselves choose not to believe.”

The suspension of services was also put in place during the first lockdown when churches remained closed during Easter.

After lockdown, the churches resumed the tradition and a number of politicians from the ruling conservative New Democracy party, including ministers, were photographed receiving the Holy Communion.

Last week, the Holy Synod asked the government to allow church services for 10 days during Christmas, with strict adherence to all the necessary health precautions.

Sourced By: AFP

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