As countries struggle to manage the coronavirus from spreading, a problematic video emerged from a Greek Orthodox Church. The video taken at Saint Gregory Palamas Holy Metropolitan Church in Thessaloniki, Greece shows worshippers drinking wine from the same spoon. To justify the health risk, the church claimed that "no disease or illness can exist in holy communion."
Live television footage covered the mass at the Saint Gregory Palamas Holy Metropolitan Church that took place on Sunday. Even though Archbishop Leronymos stated on Friday that worshippers' faith will not be doubted if they choose not to attend mass, parishioners did not seem deterred. Not only did the churchgoers gather in the church, they readily took part in an act which could facilitate the spread of the virus.
In the video, a priest can be seen dipping a spoon into the goblet containing wine. The priest then allowed the worshippers to drink from the same spoon which was dipped repeatedly into the contaminated wine. The concentration of ethanol in wine is not enough to kill the novel coronavirus. Thus, if a COVID-19 patient came in contact with the spoon, all those who came in contact with the spoon and wine after them is at risk of getting infected.
Greece took the call to ban mass gatherings, close cafes, bars, gyms, and playgrounds from Monday. Justifying their act, the church claimed that the cup containing the wine was blessed and holy, thus it could not contribute to the spread of the virus.
The Daily Star reported the outrage which followed the telecast. People feel that the worshippers did something extremely careless and might have contributed to the spread of the novel coronavirus. One viewer stated that since God is omnipresent, the churchgoers should have stayed home instead of putting more people at risk of exposure.
Saint Gregory Palamas Holy Metropolitan was not the only Greek Orthodox Church putting worshippers at risk. In Australia, a similar incident took place at a church. Steven Scoutas, a spokesperson for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, defended the incident by stating that those showing signs of illness stayed away from the church and those in attendance were healthy.