Archbishop Elpidophoros of America issued an Encyclical about what it called the ”Covid-19 Pandemic (Coronavirus)” on Friday in order to inform and guide the faithful of the Greek Orthodox community in the Americas.
”The appearance of the Covid-19 Pandemic (Coronavirus) throughout the world and in the United States has created fear, anxiety, and genuine concern. All of these need to be taken seriously and no one’s fears should be dismissed out of hand,” the announcement stated.
”The same material elements that can convey the blessings of God are also subject to the broken nature of our fallen world. Science and our God-given reason demand that we employ every means available to protect ourselves and our families against the spread of Covid-19 and any other disease,” the Archbishop said.
”In a crisis such as this, we need to exercise vigilance as a community, lest our churches become points of transmission of the disease,” he added.
Referring specifically to the Holy Eucharist (also known as Holy Communion), the statement encouraged those unwell, not to go to liturgies.
”Therefore, we counsel those feeling unwell physically to refrain from liturgical assemblies until they are certain of their diagnosis. Taking the basic steps of wellness as recommended by the health authorities is not only sensible, but wise and considerate of others. In truth, it is an act of love,” the Encyclical declared.
The Archdiocese additionally encouraged those who have traveled recently abroad, as well as ”those belonging to vulnerable groups” to refrain from attending church services during the crisis.
Directives Issued by the Archdiocese
The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America also issued a list of directives to be followed by its clergy.
This includes a series of instructions, originally suggested by the US Center for Disease Control.
Among the instructions is that all parishes will have to provide stations in the Narthex and/or Nave for the Faithful to disinfect their hands, signs will have to be posted at the entrance that recommend sick persons not attend the Services, and the clergy will not offer their hands to be reverenced.
Additionally, the Faithful will not receive the Antidoron from the Clergy, but on their own, and all liturgical objects and surfaces will be thoroughly cleaned after every service.
However, the Archdiocese noted that the Eucharist will be distributed as per usual.