The Holy Synod, the Greek Orthodox church’s governing body, held a meeting Monday to discuss the government’s rules, which would implement tighter restrictions, including the closing of churches.

The Church released a statement saying it “does not consent to the government’s measures” and that it will perform services on Wednesday, the day of the Holy Epiphany, as planned, Greek newspaper Proto Thema reports.

Along with refusing to close its churches, the Holy Synod stated that clergy had obeyed sanitary protocols over the Christmas period and that it would be sending a letter of protest to the government to start a dialogue to resolve issues between the church and the state.

According to the newspaper I Kathimerini, the Holy Synod also claimed the government did not consult with them before announcing the new stricter lockdown rules.

The Greek Orthodox priests are not the first clergy to protest or openly defy government coronavirus lockdowns.

In France, archbishop of Lille, Laurent Ulrich, spoke out against measures that prohibited more than 30 parishioners in a church at a time and told his priests to “welcome all believers” after calling the government proposals “arbitrary, discriminatory and unrealistic”.

The move came after hundreds of Roman Catholics across France protested against the government restrictions by holding demonstrations outside of churches, singing hymns and demanding the measures be lifted in November.

“We follow protocols, there has not been an outbreak of contamination in churches to my knowledge. We want to assert our right to Mass. This is a matter of freedom of religion,” a protester said at the time.

Just weeks after the protests, the French Council of State, the country’s highest administrative court, demanded that the government reexamine the measures and stated that they were “disproportionate”.