The Greek government recently adopted measures to require worshipers to present proof that they do not have the coronavirus in order to attend worship following an increase in COVID-19 infections in the European country.
Greece announced on November 18 that worshipers must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test, proof of vaccination or proof of infection to attend the service, according to European media Euractive. The rule came into effect on Sunday.
Reuters further reports that unvaccinated people will be banned from entering indoor spaces, such as restaurants, cinemas, museums and gymnasiums.
“[This is] to protect ourselves and the people, “said Father Christos, priest of Ayios Spiridon Church in Piraeus.” It might be a bit difficult, but we will persist. We are obliged to respect everything. “
Although they supported the government’s intentions, leaders of the Church of Greece’s Holy Synod have expressed concern that churches will not have the capacity to enforce the new rules and cannot guarantee that the faithful will abide by the new rules.
“[Workers or volunteer staff] have neither capacities, nor custodial authority, nor public [e.g. police] powers ”, declared the Holy Synod in a press release quoted by the daily Kathimerini.
The Greek Orthodox Church has worked with the government in the past to get more people vaccinated.
The New York Times reported that church leaders issued a circular to their priests earlier this year, saying getting vaccinated against COVID-19 was “the greatest act of responsibility to one’s neighbor.”
The latest measures come against a backdrop of a significant increase in COVID-19 cases in Greece, pointing to the country’s vaccination rate. At 62%, Greece’s vaccination rate is lower than the European Union average of 66%.
“This is indeed an unvaccinated pandemic,” Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said, quoted by Politico. “Greece is mourning unnecessary losses because it simply does not have the vaccination rates of other EU countries.”
In the United States, some churches have required that their staff be vaccinated and that worshipers present either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test in order to attend services.
For example, Bishop Lawrence C. Provenzano of the Episcopal Diocese of Long Island issued a letter in August demanding that all staff and clergy be vaccinated by September 15, with an exemption granted to people with health conditions that could prevent them from doing so. .
“People who cannot receive the vaccine will have to agree to wear a mask at all indoor gatherings, meetings and liturgies and agree to be tested every ten days until the COVID-19 virus is no longer a problem. threat to health. and the safety of those we are called to serve, ”wrote Provenzano.
“Sisters and brothers, no one seeks to prolong the immense agony that exists today in our world. No one is looking to make their life difficult in the midst of the turmoil of the past eighteen months. Each of us, as a member of the Body of Christ, must now do our part to help end this crisis. “
In September, the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention announced that its missionaries should be fully immunized and recommended that their children at least 12 years old also be immunized.
In the announcement, the IMB said the agency had previously issued vaccination warrants for missionaries for other illnesses, dating back to at least the 1980s.
“We need to make all the right decisions, even when a decision is exceptionally difficult, which maintains our team members’ access to the growing number of unreached people and places in the world where vaccines are required to enter.” IMB President Paul Chitwood said in a statement. declaration.
“We also want to do everything possible to strengthen the spiritual and physical health of our team members to maximize our effectiveness as we serve Southern Baptists in our global evangelical efforts.”