In absolute consistency with being Archbishop Elpidophoros of the Greek Archdiocese (New Calendar), Archbishop Elpidophoros declared that the Greek Archdiocese of America would absolutely not grant any vaccine exemption letters, further forbidding any of his clergy from issuing them.
Today the Holy Eparchial Synod declared that there is no religious exemption from any vaccine, including the COVID19 vaccine. Any such letter written by any clergyman of the Holy Archdiocese of America is not valid. No clergy are to issue such religious exemption letters.
— Elpidophoros (@Elpidophoros) September 16, 2021
The leader of the Greek Archdiocese of America has had some rather… unique takes on Church discipline during these wild COVID days, including the use of multiple spoons for services, which led to protests among clergy in the US and Canada, one of which actually banned the faithful from receiving communion at a convent on its feast day because the nuns refused to abandon the traditional practice of a common spoon.
The purpose of the current ban is presumably to curtail the use of vaccine exemption requests which include protests over the use of fetal cells as well as references to Orthodox tradition against the mRNA vaccines, popularized on alternative social media sites such as Gab. As many Orthodox priests were willing to help their flock during these difficult times in which businesses have been shut down wholesale and the US has only in the past few months been freed from mask mandates and other draconian, ineffective measures as a whole, it was clear to the Archbishop that this whole “exemption” business about saving people’s lives while not submitting to a vaccine that some Athonites are referring to as a precursor to the Mark of the Beast had to be stopped.
Archbishop Elpidophoros’ position on COVID has pretty much been in lockstep with the left-wing media and political crowd from day one. Less interested in seeing the faithful make it to Church, the Archbishop was the first to introduced such measures as multiple communion spoons, banning the faithful from kissing icons, and all the standard masks and social distancing. Like the left-wing media and politicians, this “distancing for thee but not for me” approach showed itself clearly during last year’s BLM protests, in which the Archbishop, never to miss a photo opportunity to ingratiate himself with the American left, stood arm-in-arm with protesters, bravely showing how protesting makes one immune to the virus.
Hopefully this will lead more faithful to leave his Archdiocese and head to greener pastures in Orthodoxy.
Based on the comments in response to his tweet, however, it seems he has a fair number of liberal defenders. We wonder how many will be showing up at his churches, however– thanks to COVID, it’s a little scary out there!