The Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church on Monday said it would defy the government lockdown order and open churches to the faithful during the Epiphany celebration on January 6.
It is recalled Greece tightened coronavirus for a week, to deal with a flood of new cases.
The Greek Orthodox Church said it had written to the government urging it to respect the agreement allowing Epiphany services to go ahead.
“The Holy Synod… does not concur with government measures regarding the operation of churches and insists on what was initially agreed with the state – that churches will stay open for the participation of the faithful in the Mass of Epiphany,” it said in a press release.
It also urged the leadership of the EU and the government to take steps to ensure a sufficient number of approved vaccines for the public, noting that the “right to health belongs to all.”
In response, a government official said lockdown laws applied to everyone equally. “We hope the Church will realize the urgency of the moment for society, as it has responsibly done so far,” the official said.
“Throughout all stages of the coronavirus pandemic, the government has been in constant consultation with the Church of Greece on matters of liturgy, with respect to public health and people’s faith.”
“The Holy Synod shows it does not consent with the new measures (…), but the law cannot be applied as needed so that anyone who disagrees can sidestep it. Beyond a mere obligation, the implementation of preventive measures is also an act of social solidarity and responsibility, by all of us,” they concluded.