CHURCH and government leaders in Greece have voiced outrage after seven Orthodox archbishops were injured last week in an acid attack by an unfrocked monk appealing against punishment for drug offences.
“We express disgust at this unprecedented attack, especially because a former clergyman is involved,” the governing Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church said.
“We also express gratitude to the injured police, who faced personal danger in arresting the perpetrator, to the rescuers who arrived immediately, and to hospital medical and nursing staff.”
The synod was reacting to the incident that took place in the early evening of Wednesday of last week at the Byzantine-era Petraki Monastery, in Athens, in which the attacker threw acid over the Orthodox judges hearing his case in their church court.
It said that the metropolitans of Kassandreia, Arta, Driinnoupolis, Zakynthos, Kifissia, Goumenissa, and Glyfada suffered face and hand burns in the attack, which also injured two lawyers and a police guard, as well the court secretary, Archimandrite Sebastianos Somarakis.
Greece’s health and education ministers visited four of the archbishops who were detained in hospital, at least one of whom underwent plastic surgery.
The attacker, identified as Hieromonk Theophylactos Kombos, from Veria, was appealing against his laicisation after a 2018 conviction for possessing cocaine. He was detained for psychiatric checks and faces assault charges.
The daily newspaper Dimokratia said that Kombos, who had threatened to “shock the Church” in Facebook posts, had concealed a plastic bottle containing the acid under his cassock.
The Prime Minister of Greece, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, condemned the “heinous attack” in an letter to the Church’s 83-year-old leader, Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens. The President of Greece, Katerina Sakellaropoulou, wished the victims a “speedy recovery” in a message.