Monday, 7 December 2020

Covidiot News - The Orthodox Church's Super-Spreader Events

Funeral of Bishop Ioannis of Lagadas, who died from Covid-19 at age 62.

Credit: Sakis Mitrolidis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Greek Orthodox Church Faces Criticism as Virus Hits Its Ranks - The New York Times

Readers of this blog will be familiar with how Eastern Orthodox priests have been instrumental in spreading the coronavirus amongst their followers in much the same way that Catholic Priests and, especially, American fundamentalist Christian pastors have been.

Only a couple of weeks ago I reported how the death from Covid-19 of 82-year-old Metropolitan Bishop Amfilohije Radovic, one of the leading Orthodox Patriarchs campaigning against the measures to contain the virus on the grounds that piety would protect church-goers, was treated as an opportunity for a super-spreader event.

The super-spreader funeral of Patriarch Amfilohije of Montenegro on Nov. 1 in Podgorica.

Credit: Savo Prelevic/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Attendees were discourged from wearing face-masks, in defference to Bishop Amfilohije's opposition to them, and were encouraged to kiss the hands and face of the dead patriarch in the traditional manner, having been assured that their faith would keep them safe. Consequently, several clerics fell ill with Covid-19, including Patriarch Irinej, the ultra-nationalist head of the Serbian Orthodox church, who conducted the service. He died of Covid-19 later that month.

Even then, safety precautions were ignored at his funeral and mourners were allowed to remove their face-masks and kiss the glass covering placed over the coffin to prevent them kissing the dead body - the only concession to the risk from the virus. And they were then served from the same communion spoon at the mass following the funeral, ensuring that as many as possible got not just the blood and body of Christ, but a dose of SARS-CoV-2 as well.

Now we have news of the funeral in Northern Greece of Bishop Ioannis of Lagadas who died of Covid-19 aged 62, and the virus continues to spread amongst the Orthodox clergy at an alarming rate. This is despite the senior cleric in Greece, Archbishop Ieronymos, urging followers to comply with government regulations and anti-virus safety measures after he had a miraculous conversion to the belief that the safety measures were important, having recovered from the virus himself after 12 days in hospital.

But despite this, Orthodox hard-liners continue to insist on communions in which the bread soaked in wine is served as a sacrament from the same spoon and worshippers need to remove any face-mask before receiving it in a ceremony in which social distancing precautions are ignored. Despite the obvious evidence to the contrary, many Orthodox clergy continue to pedal the lie that faith alone will protect the faithful - a neat trick that enables them to keep the income stream flowing whilst absolving themselves of any culpability by blaming those who fall ill for not having enough faith.

In fairness, it should be pointed out that not all Orthodox priests are equally criminally negligent of the welfare of their 'flock'. In addition to Archbishop Ieronymos, other clerics have been critical of the hard-liners. Bishop Anthimos of Alexandroupolis, for example has condemned those who preached "criminal sermons" urging Greeks to ignore public heath measures, adding:
We believed we were supermen. We hid the fact that we’d been infected by the virus and were led to the grave. Pious Egotism Kills!
Nasos Iliopoulos, spokesperson for the left-wing party, Syriza, pointed out that these words, coming from a senior cleric within the Orthodox Church shows how the church's response to the pandemic has been "questionable".
Let’s not forget the existence of a conservative/religious public that often appears to deny not only the measures but the very existence of the pandemic.
Conservative politicians have tended to blame over-crowding in bars and restaurants for the current wave of infections, while neglecting to mention that church services are also to blame, despite the spread of the virus amongst the clergy with at least 6 of the country's 82 bishops catching it. It is probable that many more priests have had or still have the disease since they regard it as a private and personal matter and refuse to admit to having symptoms whilst continuing to hold services.
Daily new confirmed Covid-19 cases - Greece - 7 Dec 2020
As of today, Greece has recorded 115,571 cases with 3003 deaths. Today, there were 903 new cases and 101 deaths.

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