Priest Anastasius Gotzopoulos said that having served the Liturgy during the quarantine, he fulfilled his priestly and pastoral duty. For this he was brought to criminal responsibility.
The priest of the Greek Orthodox Church, Protopresbyter Anastasius Gotzopoulos, was brought to trial by the Greek authorities for celebrating the Liturgy during the quarantine, according to the church news agency “Romfeya”…
The priest said that he was brought to criminal responsibility and on October 11, 2021, he will appear in the city of Patras before the court for administrative offenses for the fact that on March 25, 2020, on the feast of the Annunciation, he celebrated the Divine Liturgy.
He recalled that according to the then government decree, due to the coronavirus, from March 16 to April 11, 2020, the celebration of the Divine Liturgy was completely prohibited throughout Greece (even monasteries and on Mount Athos).
The priest noted that “the mere celebration of the Divine Liturgy, regardless of the presence or absence of believers in churches, was qualified as a criminal offense.”
However, despite this, he served the Liturgy on the feast of the Annunciation, and thereby “fulfilled his priestly and pastoral duty, as required by our church order.”
The priest noted the fact that Greece, which this year marks the 200th anniversary of the overthrow of the Ottoman yoke, the legislative branch has authorized the executive branch to completely ban the celebration of the Divine Liturgy for the first time. According to the decision of the authorities, the judiciary considers it a crime to celebrate the Eucharist and to responsible priests who dared to serve as criminals, and the church leadership looks, at best, with embarrassment!
Anastassios Gotsopoulos’ address by Prostate Priest Anastassios Romfea
“I believe that such a provision of the law, criminalizing the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, after the death of Diocletian (311 AD) was in effect in Europe only in Albania, Envir Hoxha (1967-1990).
Neither Muhammad the Conqueror and his successors during 400-500 years of Turkish slavery, nor Lenin, nor Stalin, nor Ceausescu dared to show such disrespect for the very essence of the Church, the Mystery of the Eucharist, which, of course, the Greek Republic decided on in 2020. I cannot celebrate as much as I would like at the cost of prosecution …
To be honest, I was especially concerned about whether I should defend myself before Greek justice or let it honor me by condemning me because, acting in accordance with my church tradition and the conscience of a priest, I was acting in accordance with the gospel and did not correspond to irrational and irrational unconstitutional government bans.
The only reason I chose to defend myself is that while my conviction is my highest honor, it also:
• direct challenge to the consciousness of believers,
• shame on the Greek state, which wants to claim a place in modern republics that respect the right to freedom of religion and belief of its citizens, and, finally,
• an additional reason for the scandal of believers and further shock of their confidence in the church leadership of our country!
Finally, Greek justice has supreme responsibility and is called upon to protect the Greek state and its constitutional order …
Church Ἁγ. Νικολάου Πατρῶν “