Greece’s ruling conservative party and local authorities gladly turn a blind eye when it comes to crowding in churches and the breaking of coronavirus restrictions in the nameof a higher, spiritual purpose. On the Eve of Saint Demetrios celebration day, the patron of Thessaloniki hundreds of faithful gathered at the church to received the Holy Communion, kiss the icons and the priests’ hands, attend the procession of the relics and the icon of the Patron.
The majority of the faithful wore masks even though many of them the wrong way. In addition the masks were removed when they came close to the priests and received the Communion with one spoon shared by dozens.
The Blessed Bread was placed in big baskets outside to avoid crowding inside the church. The inevitable was not avoided, though, and some churchgoer even grabbed a piece of the bread and left it back when it was not to her liking.
Majority of church goers were elderly.
On the Celebration day, October 25, the Festive Service was held behind closed doors and in the presence of the President of the Hellenic Republic. The leading priests and their entourage arrived at the church demonstratively ignoring the state’s rules.
The faithful crowded again outside the church and media reported that “police officers made recommendations for social distancing and mask wearing.”
Apparently the Police was strict when it came to observance of the virus restrictions when it came to TV crews, journalists and photo-reporters covering the events.
They laid down their equipment in protest, local media reported.
As expected, pictures and videos from the St Demetrios Church flooded the social media and reporters asked the government spokesman whether priests in general and high-ranking priests in particular are exempted form the use of masks.
“Nobody is exempted from the measures implementation and it is the responsibility of all of us to implement the government instructions,” spokesman Stelios Petsas said.
“I would say that it is not only about church going but any form of gathering,” he added.
At the same time, the Greek government keeps blaming the youth “for having fun without coronavirus precautions” and imposed night curfew in 16 regional units to hinder the young ones form crowding in squares when bars and cafes shut down at midnight.
What do you mean, mess with a priest? Would you not ask him to wear a mask? And leave the church if he refuses?
at funerals/commemoration services people are emotionally vulnerable to deal with such an issue.
Did your mother pass away recently or was that a commemoration that people do after a certain time since a passing? Perhaps an inappropriate question. My apologies if you consider so. Anyway, sorry to hear about your loss. And yes, people can feel pressured by this. Because the church is still an authority figure that might act the way it wants, not taken into consideration the feelings of the flock.
thank you. Point is families are mourning and do not feel like arguing with anyone incl a priest.
There was also big communist demonstration at Syntagma on first of may, during lockdown. Organizers should be in jail, so far nobody was prosecuted.
“mess with a priest” – They are NOT above the law and should not be considered so. Once again the religious representatives of Greece have overstepped they authority and should be reined back with heavy personal fines and their premises closed 11
As others have said, priests are not above the law. The rule here in Ontario, anyway, is that communion is given with multiple spoons. There has been much division about this. The priest, who is chanting, is unmasked as are the psaltes. The parishioners need to be masked at all times. The priest is masked when he gives communion (and the parishioner UNmasks). However, there are parishioners with their noses out, or who somehow have evolved to be able to breathe through their chin. Does the priest tell them to put the mask on properly? No. And yet we are told to “obey”.
Funerals and weddings here have NO MORE THAN 10 people (not including priest/psalti/neokoro). It used to be up to 30% of the church.
My condolences on your loss. Zoi se sas na tin thimaste.