The head of Cyprus’ Orthodox Christian Church has said that he will suspend a dozen priests from his diocese because they refused to heed his call to get vaccinated against Covid-19.
Archbishop Chrystostomos II told state broadcaster CyBC that most of the priests are also theologians who have swayed some of the faithful not to get vaccinated.
He said that 27 of 123 priests in his diocese remained unvaccinated, including 15 who have exemptions for medical reasons.
The remaining 12 would be suspended for three months as of Tuesday, and if they continued to defy the archbishop, the suspension would be extended to six months and could lead to defrocking, Chrysostomos said.
The archbishop called the insubordination “unheard of” and warned that the suspensions could be extended to six months or lead to the priests being defrocked.
Archbishop Chrysostomos has been vocal in his support for vaccinations for all the faithful and the Church’s highest decision making body, the Holy Synod, has issued a clear appeal in favour of vaccination.
January recorded the second-highest number of virus-related deaths per month in Cyprus since the start of the pandemic.