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Leona Wood
Leona Wood
World News

Greek Orthodox Church says coronavirus cannot be transmitted through communion

by Heather Preston

The Greek Orthodox Church has refused to amend its Holy Communion practice to protect parishioners against coronavirus, arguing that it "cannot transmit illness".

The Holy Synod announced that it would continue to hold services and partake in the communal bread and wine despite public health concerns raised over the use of shared chalices.

In a statement on Monday its senior clerics said: "For the members of the church, attendance of the divine eucharist and the shared cup of life of course cannot be a cause of transmission of illness.

"Believers of all ages know that attending communion, even in the midst of a pandemic, is both a practical affirmation of self-surrender to the living God and a potent manifestation of love, which vanquishes every human and perhaps justified fear."

Senior members of the Church have told Greek media that Communion representing the blood and body of Christ was without blemish.

The Church holds a view that the bread and wine have been converted into the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ, known as transubstantiation. 

Medical officials have accused the Orthodox Church - which is the country's state religion - of obstructing measures to contain the outbreak through its influence and religious views.

Dora Bakoyannis, Greece's former foreign minister has spoken out saying science has to be listened to.

"I am a person who listens to experts and experts are saying very specific things, such as this virus is transmitted through human contact, through saliva etc," she told state TV. "Science has spoken," she added.

On Tuesday, Greek Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias announced the closure of all schools and universities in the country for 14 days as the number of confirmed cases rose to 89 there.

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