Tom Ellis TOM ELLIS

Greek Orthodox in US told to avoid churches

COMMENT

TAGS: Coronavirus, Church

The Orthodox Archdioces of America has given its blessing to all among the faithful who, in these unprecedented times, choose not to go to church due to the risk of contracting or spreading the new coronavirus.

The Archdiocese explained that such a decision in no way constitutes a sin, but, on the contrary, is “an act of love and responsibility for the protection of one’s self and their fellow human beings.”

At an emergency teleconference to assess the latest data on the transmission of the coronavirus, the Holy Eparchial Synod decided that “for the benefit and protection of the faithful, and taking into account the recent scientific findings, we advise our faithful not to be exposed in places of public assembly (including attending church) during the next few weeks.”

It is indeed hopeful that the Archdiocese of America, the numerically largest and, symbolically and in essence, most important of the Ecumenical Patriarchate’s provinces, rises to the level of maturity and responsibility the circumstances demand.

For someone who has lived among the Greek diaspora – in Boston, New York and Washington, DC – it is entirely understandable that this was not an easy decision, but, as the leadership of the Greek Orthodox Church in America noted, “we recognize that this is an unprecedented situation and one that calls upon each of us to take steps to protect our fellow parishioners and larger communities.”

Furthermore, the announcement makes it absolutely clear that everyone – Church and faithful included – is “obligated to abide by the regulations of the local and state governments, as stringent as they may be, in an effort to support public health efforts.”

Finally, it says local metropolitans have “a duty to make necessary decisions for the protection of the faithful in accordance with the public health mandates and the local restrictions regarding public assembly and other protocols.”

The full text follows:

“For the benefit and protection of the faithful, and taking into account the recent scientific findings, we advise our faithful not to be exposed in places of public assembly (including attending church) during the next few weeks. We recognize that this is an unprecedented situation and one that calls upon each of us to take steps to protect our fellow parishioners and larger communities. During this time, if anyone wishes not to come to church, the Holy Archdiocese extends this blessing, as such a decision is not a sin, but an act of love and responsibility for the protection of one’s self and their fellow human beings. We encourage the faithful to participate in the experience of sacred worship at home, on TV, or using multimedia platforms.

“We are obligated to abide by the regulations of the local and state governments, as stringent as they may be, in an effort to support public health efforts. Each metropolitan has a duty to make necessary decisions for the protection of the faithful in accordance with the public health mandates and the local restrictions regarding public assembly and other protocols.”

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