Orthodox Priest Accused of Dousing Bishops With Caustic Liquid

An Orthodox priest facing a disciplinary hearing for drug-related offenses allegedly attacked bishops from Greece's Orthodox Church with caustic liquid Wednesday. Seven senior members of the church and three others were hospitalized with burns from the attack, authorities said.

The attack took place at a meeting for senior bishops in Athens. The priest accused of executing the assault was arrested unharmed by authorities for questioning, the Associated Press reported.

Two clergymen were said to be more seriously hurt than others. In addition to the bishops, an on-scene police officer, a lawyer and a presiding clergyman were taken to state hospitals for treatment.

Authorities did not immediately determine what caustic liquid the attacker had used, but confirmed that the victims had been burned.

"I express my abhorrence at this unprecedented event," Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou tweeted after speaking with Greek church leader Archbishop Ieronymos.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Athens Attack
A police officer on a motorcycle exits the Petraki Monastery in Athens, following an attack with a caustic liquid on Wednesday, June 23, 2021. Greek authorities say seven Greek Orthodox bishops have been hospitalized after allegedly being attacked with a caustic liquid by a priest facing a disciplinary hearing in Athens. The incident occurred at a meeting of senior church officials late Wednesday. Petros Giannakouris/AP Photo

Most of the victims hold the senior rank of a metropolitan bishop.

Health Minister Vassilis Kikilias visit an Athens hospital where the bishops were initially treated, joined by Archbishop Ieronymos.

Ieronymos told reporters he was "deeply saddened" by the attack but relieved that none of the injuries were considered by doctors to be life-threatening.

Health Minister Kikilias said four of the bishops were more lightly injured and were receiving first aid, while one was transferred to the plastic surgery unit of another hospital and the other two might also be transferred to other hospitals with specialized units, including one with a specialist eye clinic.

He said Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis had asked for constant updates on the case.

The motives for the attack were not immediately clear. State-run ERT television reported that the hearing was held as an appeal to depose the priest from the clergy.

Police identified the victims as the metropolitan bishops Antonios of Glyfada, Kyrillos of Kifissia, Kallinikos of Arta, Nikodimos of Kassandra, Dionysios IV of Zakynthos, Dimitrios of Goumenissis, and Andreas of Dryinoupolis.

Greek President
Greek president Katerina Sakellaropoulou (R) welcome Libya's presidential council chairman Mohammad Younes Menfi (L) prior to their meeting in Athens on April 14, 2021. After senior bishops were attacked with caustic liquid Wednesday, Sakellaropoulou sent a Tweet communicating her "abhorrence at this unprecedented event." Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP via Getty Images