Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis today attended an extraordinary meeting with Archbishop Ieronymos and the Permanent Holy Synod to discuss public health measures at Orthodox Christmas services nationwide and to convey to the entire Church the importance of vaccination amidst a surge in the COVID-19 epidemic.

In a televised national address on 18 November, Mitsotakis had announced that a negative COVID-19 rapid test would be necessary to attend church services, but many churches said they simply do not have the staff and means to enforce the measure.

Mitsotakis arrived at Petraki Monastery, the Athens headquarters of the Holy Synod, where he was received by the Abbot and lit a candle.

Public health measures at churches, vaccination discussed

In receiving Mitsotakis, Archbishop Ieronymos said, “It is our great honour”, to which the PM replied, “The honour is mine.”

Mitsotakis awarded medal

At the start of the Synod’s extraordinary session, Mitsotakis was awarded the Holy Synod’s medal marking this year’s 200th anniversary of the start of the Greek Revolution.

A top issues on the agenda was how church Christmas services will be held.

The other main issue was having all Metropolitan bishops throughout the country urge the faithful, many of whom are elderly, to be vaccinated and to strictly observe public health measures.

‘Church-State issues’

Asked at today’s regular press briefing about the PM’s meeting with the Holy Synod, government spokesman Yannis Economou said the purpose of the meeting was to discuss issues pertaining to the pandemic as well as other Church-State issues.

Economou underlined that the announced measure of faithful having to present a negative COVID-19 test before entering a church to attend services is still in effect.