How Church of Greece Celebrates Easter during the Pandemic?

7 April, 2020

On March 3, 2020, a leader of the Alliance of Patriots, Davit Tarkhan-Mouravi, on air at TV Obiektivi’s Night Studio, discussed the decision of the Church of Greece on Easter. According to Tarkhan-Mouravi, due to novel coronavirus, Easter in Greece will be celebrated on May 26-27. He labels this decision “moving Easter” and “complete absurd and nonsense”. He also added that the Church of Greece is just one of those seven churches that exist in Greece, and that other churches did not change the Easter date.

Davit Tarkhan-Mouravi: “There are seven churches in Greece. They have metropolitan bishops instead of a single patriarch. They govern these churches and make certain decisions. Unlike other six churches and, most importantly, Mount Athos… one of these churches, which is, by the way, the largest one – the Church of Hellada, decided to celebrate Easter not according to the rule… without having any right to do so… both the Church of Hellada and the world patriarch have long fallen under the influence of politicians… not only under the influence of Greek politicians, but European and American as well.”

Tarkhan-Mouravi’s statement is manipulative and incorrect. Churches in Europe indeed changed existing rules due to the spread of COVID-19, however, these rules have not concerned the date of celebrating Easter. Standing Holy Synod (Church of Hellada) only moved the popular date of celebrating Easter, while leaving the liturgy date unchanged. Moreover, the Church of Hellada is one of the most influential churches in Greece. Other churches (except for the churches, subject to the Patriarchate of Constantinople) are in schism.

  • Church of Hellada only moved the popular date of celebrating Easter, not the holy liturgy.

The discussion on popular celebration of Easter in Greece ended on April 1, after the Holy Synod’s video conference, where it discussed the current issues.

Online meeting of the Holy Synod.

According to the Synod’s decision, the Church called on the Government of Greece to hold the Easter liturgy on traditional date, keep churches closed, and only allow priests to participate in the liturgy. As the Synod’s statement explains, the Easter liturgy will also be available online.

Ieronymos, the Archbishop of Athens, emphasized that in the services, the number of chanters should not exceed two and the number of the physically present individuals should not exceed five (with the exception of the Metropolitan churches of the Holy Metropolises, where the maximum allowed number of the physically present individuals is ten). All individuals, attending the services will follow social distancing.

In addition, it has been clearly stated that May 26-27 will only be the last days of chanting “Christos Anesti” (Christ is Risen), when Greeks would gather in churches to celebrate Easter and chant the hymns, that they cannot chant in the churches. As for the Easter liturgy, it will be carried out based on the existing traditional date, if the Government will allow so.

  • Except the Church of Hellada and the representation of the Constantinople Church, all other churches on the territory of Greece are non-canonical.

With the aim of emasculating the decision of the Church of Greece, Davit Tarkhan-Mouravi mentioned that the Church of Hellada is only one of the seven existing churches in Greece. It is noteworthy that the Church of Greece (Hellada) is one of the most important autocephalic churches in the Orthodox world. Due to historical circumstances, the Patriarchate of Constantinople also has significant power on the territory of Greece, however, same cannot be said about any other local churches.

It should also be noted that it is precisely the Church of Hellada that enjoys the state status. It is headed by the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, Ieronymos II. Smaller churches also operate on the territory of Greece, however, their influence is minimal, as they are non-canonic churches and are in schism.

Prepared by Irakli Iagorashvili
Regional network of the Media Literacy Lab