Orthodox church buildings rejoice Easter within the shadow of Covid-19
The leaders of EASTERN ORTHODOX in Europe have supported government measures to fight the Covid-19 pandemic, although some restrictions on public service prior to the Orthodox Easter next Sunday have criticized.
In Russia, where President Putin's government agreed to lower church gas prices during the crisis, Patriarch Kirill told Christians that the virus was a reminder of the need for self-criticism of the "tragic overrating of human opportunities".
"If we come closer to God after overcoming this suffering, we will have a victory," said the patriarch during a Palm Sunday liturgy in the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. “The evolution of human civilization, especially in the past decade, has tried to satisfy the unbridled desire to have more, consume more and want more. All great ideals, noble and glorious, including belief in God, have been banished by many to the periphery of life. "
Patriarch Kirill not only oversaw the street processions of repentance by Orthodox clergymen, but also toured the city's 70-mile circular highway with a paramilitary police escort to invoke divine protection through prayers and relics, while several Orthodox Metropolitan helicopter air processions carried out their dioceses.
The Russian Moscow Patriarchate said that Holy Week and Easter services would be held in the capital without parishioners after an Orthodox priest died and around 40 people had contracted the virus.
In neighboring Belarus, however, President Oleksandr Lukashenka said that he would personally attend the Easter services. His government trusted that Orthodox clergymen would take the "necessary precautions".
"Catholics have already celebrated Easter, and those who go to church, as is their right, have done so with great care," President Lukashenka told journalists Monday. "We don't block the way to temples and don't forbid anyone to go to church – that's my strict instruction."
In Greece, where at least 100 deaths were reported last weekend, Archbishop Ieronymos II of Athens asked his brother bishops to donate half of their income to ventilators and life-saving devices. In an Easter message, he told Christians that the pandemic had asked many people whether "everything had to be written from scratch".
The ruling Holy Synod of the Greek Church said Easter was marked "on a small scale behind closed doors" and the public celebrations would instead be broadcast on Tuesday, March 26, before the eve of Ascension.
PAMetropolitan Varsonofy of St. Petersburg and Ladoga (left) before prayers in a helicopter with an icon of Our Lady of Kazan over St. Petersburg on April 1
However, Greek media said that the police dispersed worshipers in churches in Patras and other cities, and that Metropolitan Seraphim of Kythira was arrested during an adoration of the Virgin Mary after denouncing the "devilish plague" of the restrictions on worship.
In Greece, too, the Orthodox Romfea news agency published comments criticizing the blockade and accusing Church leaders of not providing spiritual guidance. George Alevras, a monk from Mount Athos, badly damaged by the storms in early April, told the agency that the order to "close churches without the Easter secrets" came from western politicians – "those who have a Europe of the Crusaders , Wars, memoranda, enslavement, economic measures, misery and lies. "
Every European country has reported Covid-19 infections, and the number of cases is increasing in the continent's 11 predominantly Orthodox countries. In Bulgaria, Patriarch Neophyte reversed his instruction in mid-March that the churches should remain open and resist the "pretext of coronavirus infection" and instead called for compliance with emergency restrictions.
The Georgia Synod said the ban on church attendance was "an unjustified crime against God," adding that "far more people" are currently "squeezing into public transportation, pharmacies, and grocery stores."
In Ukraine, where government officials predicted that 200,000 workers might try to return from neighboring countries for Easter, the Moscow-based Orthodox Church, which is in conflict with a newly created independent denomination, has blamed opponents of the Covid 19 crisis use. when his monastery of the caves in Kiev was ordered on Monday to close after major infections.
Churches remain open to private prayers and online services under a Ukrainian government decree, despite last week's council of churches and religious organizations in the country warned that police and local authorities violate religious freedom by “varying quarantine restrictions interpret".
Meanwhile, Orthodox leaders in Serbia said services would continue subject to security measures and warned that the pandemic would be used as an "unreasonable and malicious" excuse to prevent community.
"The Orthodox Church is under attack," stated the Serbian Holy Synod in a communiqué. "They accuse us of violating the binding instructions of the state authorities, and this is a lie because the state cannot and cannot handle the content and manner of conducting services."
In a message to the 260 million Orthodox Christians in the world at the end of March, 80-year-old Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I said that all churches should be grateful to the frontline medical practitioners who acted against the pandemic and asked the Christians to do so follow.
“Our states, governments and health authorities are primarily responsible for overcoming this crisis. We could call them battlefield commanders against an invisible but known enemy, ”said the patriarch, who is recognized as an honorary primate among 14 major Orthodox churches.
“Some feel that these drastic measures undermine or damage our beliefs. However, it is not about our faith, but about our believers. "