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Cyprus

Coronavirus: No pay and removal for priests preaching against jab

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Archbishop Chrysostomos on Monday threatened clerics who preach against the coronavirus vaccination in their sermons with salary cuts and even removal should they continue.

“The pandemic is neither a church issue nor a spiritual one – it is a medical issue,” he told CyBC, adding that some clerics are completely “off subject” by claiming vaccines go against the teachings of the saints.

The archbishop said that the Church is “too small” to disagree with internationally recognised medical professionals and science in general.

The Holy Synod reaffirmed its support for inoculations as a means of fighting the pandemic following an appeal by President Nicos Anastasiades last Thursday.

Despite the archbishop’s vocal support for the Covid vaccine, certain members of the clergy, particularly Morphou bishop Neophytos, who recently recovered from the virus, continue to stand firmly against.

It also emerged on Saturday that several priests in Morphou communities continue to preach against vaccinations in their sermons, something that has worried community leaders.

On this subject, Chrysostomos said that complaints have been forwarded to the Holy Synod’s secretary, who will be contacting those involved to give them a chance “to apologise to both the Synod and the public they misled and express a different opinion”.

“If they show remorse, the church will forgive but if not, they will not be paid at the end of the month,” the archbishop told Alpha TV.

“The Synod was crystal clear the other day; whoever violates the mandate will be punished with salary cuts – and this applies to everyone, including me”.

On the Morphou bishop, whose flippant attitude towards the virus caused a stir after his recovery, the archbishop said that “everyone can do what they want, as long as they don’t mislead others and go against the teachings of the Synod”.

“If he doesn’t want the vaccine, let him not get the vaccine. If he wants to die, let him die, but there is no reason why he should be able to mislead others, risking more victims”.

Finally, Chrysostomos said that the Synod may consider the removal of those who continue in this way, as a form of punishment.

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