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Gov’t tells Church: “Law cannot be applied as needed, sidestepped by those who disagree”

“The law cannot be applied as needed so that anyone who disagrees can sidestep it,” the government said in a response statement to the Church of Greece late on Monday. “Beyond a mere obligation, the implementation of preventive measures is also an act of social solidarity and responsibility, by all of us,” the conservative right-wing government said after the Holy Synod decided to defy the ban of open churches and allow people to join the Blessing of the Waters ceremony on January 6.

The Church of Greece must “realize the critical significance of the current juncture for society, as it has indeed so far responsibly showed that it does,” in response to the Holy Synod’s aired criticism against church closures on Epiphany Day, the statement 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. In this context, the Christmas and New Year church services were indeed held, and liturgies for the Epiphanies were also foreseen,” said the governmental announcement.

The government continued to say that “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-doors liturgies on Epiphany, without the presence of the faithful.”

With its published decision to reserve the right to potentially not abide with closure restrictions, “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,” concluded the government’s statement of response, state-run news agency amna reported.

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