Greece: Bishop's death revives debate on communion safety

THESSALONIKI, Greece(AP) – On Monday, following the death of COVID-19, a senior clergyman in the Greek Orthodox Church was buried, re-establishing dialogue on the protection of communion prior to Christmas.

Metropolitan Bishop Ioannis of Lagadas, 62, advocated overwhelmingly for the maintenance of communion services, where worshipers collect bread and wine from a traditional spoon.

Other church leaders endorsed his position.

Lagadas is the northern area that currently has the highest incidence of infection outside Greece's second-largest city, Thessaloniki.

Churches in Greece are officially locked as part of a 3 week lockdown nationally initiated on November 7, but will be opened again before Christmas.

The re-enactment of the Last supper, meal eaten with apostles by Jesus Christ before his capture and crucifixion according to the Scriptures is celebrated in worshiping communion.

The Holy Synod of the Church said on Monday that she met with the limitations of public protection and struck opponents who accused the church of behaving irresponsibly.

"Some aspiring public leaders insist on focusing exclusively on Holy Communion in a neurotic manner," a resolution from the Synod said.

"In defiance of epidemiological evidence, they cite unscientific relationships to coronavirus spread."

Greek health practitioners have generally resisted discussion on Church activities, but remember that saliva is a leading means of infection in the World Health Organisation guidelines.

The conservative government should have found stronger assistance from the Church during its public health drive, according to ChristosGiannoulis, the Thessaloniki lawmaker for the leftist Syriza Party.

"I think worship places have helped disperse the pandemic quickly, but they're not the only ones: apply to public transit overcrowding, crowding outside classrooms, and the unfortunate shortage of exams, and we are where we are now,' he said to the AP.

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