The primate of the Church of Cyprus said he will no longer tolerate employees who refuse to get vaccinated and priests who don’t wear masks and incite their flock to reject the jab.
Speaking on CyBC state radio, Archbishop Chrysostomos said he will consider sacking archbishopric employees who choose to remain unvaccinated after returning from their summer holidays.
The Archbishop said that eight out of 80 staff members have yet to be vaccinated, and have been warned not to return to work after the end of their holiday without getting at least the first shot of a COVID-19 vaccine.
He said that he called them to his office, handing them the warning himself.
The Archbishop said that being ill after contracting the coronavirus would prove to be lethal for him.
“I respect them, why shouldn’t they respect me?” he added.
The Archbishop was one of the first people to get vaccinated against COVID-19, receiving his first jab last December.
Asked if the Church could convince members of the clergy to get inoculated, he said he will see to it that priests going against vaccination directives or health protocols, such as refusing to wear a mask in church, will face the consequences.
He explained that the archbishopric could cut the €5 mln it contributes yearly to help cover the cost of salaries.
“I will not give money to those disobeying the orders of the Holy Synod, to teach some respect to any priests and bishops who disobey me,” said the Archbishop.
Asked to comment on last Sunday’s demonstration against vaccinations and the implementation of the Safe Pass for almost all outdoor and indoor facilities, the Archbishop condemned the violent turn the demonstration had taken.
“They are just doing it for show. They do not have true faith; they just want to rally supporters,” he said.
“People can’t claim the church or religion as their own, simply to believe what they want to believe,” he said.
Refuting the arguments put forward by a number of anti-vaxxers that saints have spoken out against vaccines, the Archbishop said that no saint recognised by the Greek Orthodox Church has ever dealt with such issues, “no matter what some might say”.
One of the 20 people connected to the violence that followed the demonstration at the Presidential Palace, ending up at Sigma TV where they smashed glass doors and windows, destroyed equipment and burnt cars, is a scientific advisor to the Holy Synod.