Athonite Elder to authorities: Open churches, only Lord will save us
One of the most respected confessors in the Orthodox world called on the Greek authorities to open churches and not oppress believers.
In connection with the strict quarantine in Greece, one of the most respected confessors in the Orthodox world, hegumen of St. Paul’s Monastery of Athos Archimandrite Parthenius (Murelatos), appealed to the authorities to open churches and not prevent Christians from praying for salvation from the coronavirus. A video message of Archimandrite Parthenius was published by the “Tsargrad TV” channel.
The Orthodox Elder reminded the authorities that he had been in St. Paul’s Monastery since 1954 to this day. He said that for the first time during this period, Athonite monks celebrated Easter alone, although previously from 100 to 200 pilgrims had always celebrated the Resurrection of Christ with them, and up to 5,000 pilgrims from all over the world throughout Athos. Now the monks of the Holy Mountain celebrated the Great Feast with only a few workers who have constant access to Mt. Athos.
“I am talking about it with great pain in my heart. I grieve, because before there were believers, our comfort, by our side and we celebrated Easter, the Bright Resurrection, and together we exclaimed: “Christ is risen!” – and that brough us joy,” said Archimandrite Parthenius.
According to him, the Lord sent a trial to shake everyone who stepped aside from the Lord's intended path. Now the temples in Athens and Thessaloniki are closed and people are staying home.
“Of course, it’s good that our politicians take such measures aimed at people, and I am not against it, but I would like to tell them: this is not enough,” the Elder explained. “I ask all the politicians and people of the Church: call people, open churches, let people go out onto the streets, let them take icons, let them go in a cross procession, let them pray to the Almighty Lord to save us from adversity.”
Archimandrite Parthenius warned that the rulers of this world cannot save people, only the Almighty Lord can do this.
“Open temples, let people leave the house, let them take out the icons, let them kneel as the inhabitants of Nineveh did. Let us pray to the Lord, our Almighty God, may He deliver us from adversity, otherwise we will all perish,” the clergyman warned. “Don’t delude yourself for only the Lord, our Blessed Virgin, our Holy Apostles and a host of our saints will save us. Let us pray to our Lord, because it was our faith that saved the world. And give up all godless actions, we are Christians.”
He told politicians that they are preparing in vain "to lock down the whole world".
“ This will be the greatest destruction for you, because by doing so you are unjust to us, and we, Christians, believe in the omnipotence of our Lord, we are baptized and anointed, and this is a gift of the Holy Spirit, amen!” The Elder stressed. “Everyone who is not baptized, who wants to lock themselves in their homes, let them do as they please.” But do not force us, Christians, because whatever you do, Christ will triumph.”
Anton Ovsyannikov, a painter and member of the Russian Union of Artists, who met with Archimandrite Parthenius, noted on his Facebook page that such behaviour is unusual for the Elder.
"Righteous anger of geronta Parthenius. Unusual! "I know him a little bit, I've seen him, I've even talked to him once. He's always calm. In Greece, the whole situation is much ‘hotter’ than ours," commented Ovsyannikov on the Elder’s words.
On April 12, 2020 the priest of St. Nicholas Church in Koukaki (Athens) gave communion to believers through the back door of the church. This was noticed by the locals, who published pictures of the Sacrament. The Archdiocese of Athens began proceedings in this regard.
The hierarch of the Greek Church, Metropolitan Seraphim (Mentzelopoulos) of Piraeus commented on the incident and stated that the priest who had communded children in Athens was not a criminal.
Also, Metropolitan Nektarios of Kerkyra is to face a trial for holding a service and giving communion to believers.