LAST UPDATE: 14:16
Metropolitan Ierotheos of Nafpaktos, spokesman of the Church of Greece on coronavirus pandemic issues, issued a clarification statement regarding the confusion created around the “opening hours” of the churches.
As he points out, the encyclical issued by the Holy Synod is addressed to the Metropolitans – not to the faithful – and, therefore, it is not a document urging the faithful to go to the church, especially as the Holy Synod cannot “legislate” contrary to the what the state has already decided.
The encyclical states that the churches will be open from 11.00 to 13.00 during the Holy Week, except on Holy Friday, the churches will be open for two more hours after the dismissal of the liturgy (13.00-17.00).
This is a purely restrictive measure related exclusively to paragraph 6 of the inter-ministerial decision: “The administrative functions of the places of worship are allowed to continue” and concerns only the priests and the necessary staff of the churches.
However, beyond the government’s decisions, the Holy Synod urges all believers to understand that this year’s Holy Week and Easter Day we must stay home and devote our time praying at home in accordance with the ecclesiastical economy and the gravity of the situation.”
At the same time, Government Spokesman Stelios Petsas said that the government is aware that “the church has shown a very responsible attitude all this time. The Standing Holy Synod has made hard and difficult decisions while keeping very good cooperation with the state.
Regarding the opening hours, we are examining various issues so that there is no mass gathering, always reminding that there is no special provision for going to the church…
We will ensure, in cooperation with the church, that there will be no mass gathering, always saying that during this time we stay home, we do not go to the church and we make sure to follow the instructions.
As far as the Holy Fire is concerned, we have ensured that it will arrive in Greece. And we are in consultation with the church so that there is the best possible level of cooperation,” the government spokesman stressed during the established briefing of the political journalists.