Anti-Vax Orthodox monks and priests are flying around like flies in Greece

ATHENS — COVID-19 has been ripped apart Official religion communities all over Greek, infecting one unvaccinated religious leader after another and causing some priests and monks to rethink their stance on these injections.

Last month, at least four unvaccinated monks from Mount Athos, a hot bed COVID and one of the most important centers of Eastern Orthodox monasticism in the world, died of the virus. This problem goes for priests too: Just last week, a priest in Patra and a 46-year-old Archimandrite in Thessaloniki died of COVID-19. Both were unvaccinated.

After their death, The Greek media reported that one of the deceased monks from Mount Athos had previously expressed a wish to be vaccinated, but his elder instructor forbade him from being vaccinated. hit. This is not uncommon in the Greek Orthodox Church. Over the past two years, a large number of clerics have publicly (and secretly) protested against pandemic measures including lockdowns, curfews, and masks — and now vaccines.

Archimandrite Bartholomew, abbot of the Holy Monastery of Esphigmenou in Mount Athos, wrote in a Facebook statement on November 15, “The situation has reached the point of no return. Everywhere in Greece there is a smell of death.” The post continued: “Pandemic lie spreaders seek power and fame, attracting audiences and submissive followers. They do not cultivate virtue in people… [they’re] take advantage of their fears and passions. ”

That said, within the last few months, there seems to have been a significant increase in the number of priests being stabbed – and it appears the COVID outbreak among clergy, with some infections ending by death, played an important role in that case.

According to Nikos Tzanakis, professor of impulses at the University of Crete, only about 30-40% of clerics are vaccinated in September. “The reality is that many of them are sick with COVID-19 and some have already been infected. deaths, and the measures taken by governments and local cities that threaten to detain them is certainly a powerful motivator. Now I estimate that about 70% of priests are vaccinated all over Greece,” he told The Daily Beast.

“God does not allow you to get infected in the church.”

The fourth wave that hit Greece in early autumn brought with it a large number of new COVID cases, reaching a record 8,613 new cases in just one day in early November, the highest the country has ever seen. until now. More than 17,000 people have died from the virus in Greece since the beginning of the pandemic. According to official records from the National Public Health Organization (NPHO), the majority of infected people arriving in hospital ICUs are unvaccinated.

Simultaneously, anti-vaccination group in Greece have been campaigning for and opposing vaccines and government measures since the vaccine first arrived in the country on Christmas Day last year. In some cases, clerics have played a leading role in pushing back against vaccines. Although the leaders of the Greek Orthodox church have somewhat adhered to the rules and expressed their support for the vaccination campaign, it is the “neighborhood priests” who have suffered. the heaviest harm.

For months, local priests across Greece sabotaged the vaccination campaign by urging their flocks not to vaccinate during their weekly homily and even refused entry for churchgoers who are vaccinated or wear masks. Among the most forceful vaccine deniers is Metropolitan from Aetolia and Acarnania, Kosmas, who on November 18 tested positive for COVID. Although his health is deteriorating, he initially refused to be hospitalized until Wednesday night. In one of the speech Last year, Kosmas said: “God does not allow you to get infected in the church. God is not contagious! Please understand it. ”

The spokesman for the Permanent Holy Synod of the Church of Greece, Metropolitan Timotheos, said, “There was more in the early days than there is today,” said of priests who opposed vaccines. He told The Daily Beast: “The fear of death, the increase in new COVID-19 cases and the fact that we are seeing that the vaccine is working, has caused many priests to change their mind. determine and go for injections.

According to Tzanakis, the monastery’s officials also seem to be warming up: In September, about 90% of the monks were unvaccinated, according to Tzanakis. “They confuse metaphysics with science. And unfortunately that affects everyone,” said Tzanakis, adding that the number of unvaccinated monks currently hovers around 70%.

Although there are no official records from the NPHO on the number of clerics who have tested positive for COVID-19 and died since the beginning of the pandemic, indications are that the number is very high. “Here in my area, we have lost two people, and I know that in the neighboring municipalities, even three and four priests have died,” said Timotheos.

Greece is a deeply religious country, home to about 10,000 clergy – the most in Europe as a proportion of population – and more than 9,500 churches. It’s hard to overstate the influence local priests have on their flock here.

Meanwhile, the Greek government has doubled down on vaccination efforts ahead of the holiday season, when people take to the streets to celebrate. Priests and their herds are now required to submit at least two negative COVID tests per week (at their own expense) or be fully vaccinated to attend church.

“We urge and urge both our priests and religious as well as our flocks to get vaccinated because it is the only way for all of us to protect ourselves and against the virus that is causing us,” said Timotheos. harm to the whole world and our homeland.

About 2,200 Greek citizens died from COVID-19 in November alone. With the Omicron variant spreading across Europe and the world, daily new cases in Greece range from 6,000-8,000. On Wednesday, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis announced that as of January 16, all unvaccinated citizens over the age of 60 will face fines unless they are stabbed, but stopped short of giving a new ban.

“I truly believe that with this decision, human lives will be saved,” the prime minister said, describing the latest immunization mandate as “a fair act for those who are vaccinated.” . Anti-Vax Orthodox monks and priests are flying around like flies in Greece


ClareFora is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. ClareFora joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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