Greek government criticises Church call to allow worshippers to attend Epiphany services

A Church of Greece statement criticizing a nationwide ban on open churches that prevents worshippers from taking a direct part in the Blessing of the Waters ceremony on Wednesday has drawn a strong response from the government.

In a statement published by the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (AMNA), the Greek government said that: “The Holy Synod shows it does not consent with the new measures … but the law cannot be applied as needed so that anyone who disagree can sidestep it. Beyond a mere obligation, the implementation of preventative measures is also an act of social solidarity and responsibility, by all of us.

The government called on the church to “realise the critical significance of the current juncture for society, as it has indeed so far responsibly showed that it does.”

“Throughout all the 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. In this context, the Christmas and New year church services were indeed held and liturgies were also foreseen.

“The need to not undermine the steady pace of the fight against the coronavirus, especially in view of schools reopening, forced the return to the previous regime of restrictions on the retail sector and society, including the provision for churches to hold closed-door liturgies on Epiphany, without the presence of the faithful,” the government said in the statement.

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