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Rupture in Church-State relations after the decision of the Holy Synod regarding the celebration of Orthodox Sunday

ieronimos sakelaropoulou

A rift seems to have been created between the Church and the State following the decision of the Permanent Holy Synod to overturn the protocol for the celebration of Orthodox Sunday.

HDN Newsroom

For the first time, the Divine Liturgy will not be celebrated in the metropolis of Athens but in the Holy Monastery of Petraki, a move that expresses the dissatisfaction of the hierarchs with the passing of the law allowing marriage to same-sex couples.

The intentions of the church are revealed in a statement by the Archbishop of Athens Ieronymos, while politicians recommend calm. "I see you all young. We will do the baptisms. I do not wish you marriages of this kind", this was the first reaction of Archbishop Ieronymos, two weeks after the enactment of the law on marriage equality, when he came to the work of the Permanent Holy Synod.

"The church doesn't react, it loves." Although his message was once again unifying, the decisions of the first session of the Permanent Holy Synod after the adoption of the controversial bill show that the church dissociates itself from the official State and decides this year that the celebrations for Orthodoxy Sunday on March 24 will not take place as usual in the Metropolis of Athens but in the Holy Monastery of Petraki.

"This year includes this ritual, the divine liturgy at the Holy Monastery of Asomatoi Petrakis. Don't think any more, it's a more austere way of celebrating this year," said the spokesman of the Holy Synod, Metropolitan Panteleimon of Maroneia.

The move of the celebrations from the Metropolis to the small Church of the Petrakis Monastery breaks the ritual that wants the President of the Republic and a multitude of representatives of the government and political parties of the country to attend.

According to an ANT1 report, after the decisions of the Permanent Holy Synod, the ceremonial lunch of the Presidency of the Republic in honor of the hierarchy is also in the air. A few hours ago we even had the President's reaction. In an announcement, the President of the Republic, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, announced that yesterday she sent invitations to the Archbishop and the members of the Synod for the established lunch hosted in their honor at the Presidential Palace.

"The President and the members of the I.I.S. are always welcome at the Presidential Palace, but at the same time their decision is respected whether to accept the invitation," the Presidency of the Republic said in a statement.

The decision taken, following a proposal by Metropolitan Nektarios of Corfu, by the Priestly Synod of the Church of Corfu in which, after accusing the two opposition MPs Alekos Avlonitis of SYRIZA and Dimitris Biagis of PASOK/KINAL of "making a grave mistake" with their vote on the law on same-sex marriage, they should not consider themselves as active members of the Church!

The decision goes even further, since it not only attributes to them a "grave spiritual and moral slip" and calls on them to abstain from any ecclesiastical event, it asks them not to receive communion, calling them to express "their repentance for their wrongdoing".

They announce that the two MPs will no longer be honoured by the relationship between the State and the Church at official events, parish worship services and processions, and call on them to assume their responsibilities.

On the contrary, they praise the stance of government MP Stefanos Ghikas, saying that "he showed the morale of an Orthodox Christian and preserved his conscience intact". In fact, they urge the faithful to vote for him at the polls, since the decision states that "such politicians, regardless of other beliefs, we need in our country, who, in addition to serving the public on the basis of their ideas, which are respected at a political level, to keep the Greek Orthodox spirit intact, to support the Greek family and the paradata".

PASOK-KINAL deems the decision of the Metropolis of Corfu unacceptable in a statement.