A Greek Orthodox priest in Athens has been suspended and forbidden from performing sacraments after he allowed two girls to serve at the altar of his church, sparking controversy within conservative circles.
The incident took place at in Plaka, where Protopresbyter Alexandros Karyotoglou, the priest in question, made the unprecedented decision. Outraged by this "scandalous" act, conservative groups voiced their complaints.
Following the incident, the priest was summoned by Church authorities, who informed him of his suspension from officiating during the Divine Liturgy and participating in sacraments such as weddings, baptisms, and confessions. The matter will be discussed and decided upon by the 12-member Holy Synod in their upcoming meeting. It remains uncertain whether Archbishop Ieronymos will raise the issue for discussion and what his stance will be.
While theologians argue that such arguments are merely pretexts, members of the Holy Synod point out that the decision aims to educate the priest, as there was no prior consultation with the Archdiocese staff. They emphasize that individual decisions are not made within the Synod.
In contrast, some theologians highlight that the outrage and denial from conservatives are hypocritical, as women have been serving at the Holy Altar in various capacities for a long time, including in monasteries, institutions, camps, and even parishes. Protopriest Vasilios Thermos argues that the resistance to allowing girls in the altar stems from a faction clinging to outdated beliefs, asserting that the Church has been held hostage by fundamentalists. He cautions that any punishment imposed on Father Alexander will deeply scandalize those who value critical thinking and reflection.
Notably, last month, Archbishop Elpidoforos of America permitted girls to serve on the church altar with the blessing of Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios, further highlighting the ongoing debates and differing practices within the Orthodox community.