The leader of the Cypriot Orthodox Church has warned he will remove a dozen unvaccinated priests by Tuesday if they continue to oppose church rules for COVID-19.
Archbishop Chrysostom II told state broadcaster CyBC on Sunday that he would send priests home because they refused to be vaccinated while advocating coronavirus injections.
He said 27 of the 123 priests in his diocese remained unvaccinated, including 15 who have medical exceptions.
The remaining 12 will be removed in three months from Tuesday, and if they continue to oppose the archbishop, the suspension will be extended to six months and could lead to the removal of the sleigh, Chrysostomos said.
He said it was “unprecedented” for priests and even theologians not to obey their chief bishop.
Chrysostom, a cancer survivor, said some priests opposed him because of his poor health.
He claims that priests and theologians refuse to be stabbed, act on “selfish motives” and influence the church.
Although vaccination remains optional in Cyprus, the archbishop has issued strict guidelines for priests and theologians to be vaccinated.
He supported the government’s campaign to vaccinate the population from the outset, being one of the first people to be stabbed in December 2020.
Last year, Chrysostomos warned that he would not tolerate officials who refused to be vaccinated and priests who did not wear masks and urged their flock to reject the sting.
COVID-19 infections have declined in recent weeks, reaching a peak of 5,457 on 4 January.
January also registered 93 deaths, the highest level since the pandemic.
The Republic of Cyprus has officially registered 253,350 cases of coronavirus and 731 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic.
About 74.7 per cent of the country’s one million people received the first stroke, while 71.1 per cent were fully vaccinated, according to the health ministry.