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Coronavirus: Unvaccinated archdiocese priests to be put on leave

Αρχιεπίσκοπος Κύπρου – Εμβολιασμό
The Archbishop receiving his vaccine

The archbishop has placed a dozen priests on mandatory leave as of Tuesday for three months over their refusal to get the Covid-19 vaccine, with the church primate saying they may have ulterior motives.

The row has been rumbling on for months, with Archbishop Chrysostomos II taking a hard line on vaccinations, warning for months that those who refuse his demand will face sanctions.

He told local media on Sunday that of the 123 priests in the archdiocese there are 27 who remain unvaccinated, but 15 of them cited medical reasons for not doing so.

That leaves 12 who are to be placed on mandatory absence for three months, with continued failure to comply potentially leading to a six month ban and possibly even resulting in their removal.

The archbishop claimed that some priests were undermining his authority by refusing vaccination, stating that there may be ulterior motives for their decision.

He said that it is unheard of for priests to disobey the archbishop in such a manner and that they may be taking advantage of his poor health.

The archbishop has taken a firm stance on the need for his staff to be vaccinated, but others within the church – most notably the bishop of Morphou – publicly campaigned against the rollout.

But Morphou Bishop Neophytos has been quiet since September, following a meeting held between President Nicos Anastasiades and the Holy Synod.

The president said he had a constructive dialogue with the synod, including Morphou.

“I think there will not be public interventions encouraging people not to vaccinate.”

In a statement of his own later, Neophytos said he and the other bishops “agreed with his Beatitude’s proposal that within the Holy Synod we will voice our dissent whenever we happen to disagree with a decision by the majority.

“But in public, we shall remain silent, provided that we are not provoked into responding, and we will publicly express our assent with the decisions of the majority of the Holy Synod, whenever we happen to agree.”

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