Virus forces Greek churches to close over Easter | Inquirer Lifestyle
A Greek Orthodox priest gazes at the closed door of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem following the closure of the city for non-residents as a measure to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus, on March 29, 2020. (Photo by Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP)

Virus forces Greek churches to close over Easter

Greece’s Holy Synod, the supreme body of the country’s Orthodox Church, said Wednesday the coronavirus would force all churches to remain closed over the Easter period.

Easter is traditionally the biggest date in the Orthodox calendar but the spread of the deadly virus and the need to maintain strict social distancing means this year’s celebrations on April 19 will be much muted.

The Synod said it “understands completely the anxiety of the Greek Republic at this crucial time” as it invited believers to pray at home. The body said it would “broadcast the holy liturgy using means provided by new technologies.”

Ninety percent of Greeks profess Orthodoxy which is the state faith but the new coronavirus pandemic has forced the suspension of all church services with the exception of funerals.

The Synod added the Greek Church was donating 150,000 euros ($165,000) to the health service while adding its members would also stump up a month’s salary as the country battles the epidemic.

To date, Greece, with a population of 11 million, has reported 50 deaths and 1,415 cases of the virus.