The Toronto Story

We’ve got to thank our readers for this one.  This story showed up in a comment.  Father Fanourios Pappas, the parish priest of St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Toronto, Canada, said something that broke our hearts:

“My brethren, today, I have a great sadness. Last night, we were told from our Archdiocese that the city of Toronto forbade Holy Communion for the area of Toronto, and it looks like the persecution of the Church continues. I have no words to express my disappointment and my sadness. And I feel that I cannot share with you today any sermon because I feel that I cannot talk about faith, about Christ. I feel that at this moment I only want to ask God to forgive us, to forgive our little faith, to forgive our weakness, to forgive us because we are not worthy to keep the great blessing of the Orthodox faith.”   (The link has repeatedly been taken down but we grabbed this one from one of Gail’s good friends from her former parish, Peter Jordan.

We would have posted this earlier but we didn’t know what prompted this.  Who gave the directive that communion was no longer permitted?  

Turns out it was the Toronto Public Health website, where they published the following:

All Places of Worship Must Adhere to the Following Requirements: General Guidance

 Suspend all communion-related activities as advised by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.
 Suspend all social gatherings, including those that occur before or after the service, as advised by
Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.
 Suspend food services at this time.
 Participation of religious services is limited to no more than 30% of the capacity of your premises.
 Maintain a distance of two metres/six feet between all people, as much as possible.
 Suspend regular childcare and children’s programming.
 Encourage the use of masks, and require that masks be worn when, in rare circumstances, physical
distancing is not possible.
 Suspend indoor singing activities and choir service.
 Suspend the sharing and distribution of the following materials and objects: books, communion objects,
microphones, prayer mats, prayer shawls, water, chalices, collection plates (please note: this is not an
exhaustive list).
 Discontinue use of the holy water stoup.
 Avoid opportunities for the virus to spread through touch, either directly or indirectly through surfaces
and objects, including objects that may be used in rituals or ceremonies.
 Perform more frequent and enhanced cleaning and disinfection.
Faith community leaders and organizers are responsible for preventing the risk of infection among staff, volunteers, community members, and visitors who participate in their organization’s activities. 

As an aside, we got this information from another good friend of Gail’s, Kenneth Dilks, who told her he, “believes with all that’s going on in US and CANADA I think we are reliving the 1917 Revolution in Moscow.”  Can’t say we disagree with him.  Toronto Public Health Website 
Again, thank you to our readers and to our friends for bringing this important story to our attention and for helping us to us to fill in the gaps so we could present it to you. 


  1. A website is not a person. The question to be answered is:
    WHO drew up this diktat and WHO authorised it?


    BLM mob was screaming “We’re not here for violence!” as they dragged parishioners from the church steps!

    In response to our prayer rally violent leftists and Black Lives Matter organized a counter rally and smeared the Catholic Prayer rally as a KKK event.


    At one point a 61-year-old Catholic man from St. Louis was jumped by the violent leftists and Black Lives Matter activists.


    That is when Paul said the far left activists and members of the Regional Muslim Activist Network attacked him. “I was trying to stay away from the guy who hit me because he was hitting anybody he could. There were about four white people and we were huddled together and they came over. They said no you don’t get it. You’re not welcome here!”

    BLM protesters brought guns to counter-protest Catholics saying a rosary.

    “We need a revolution in order to overthrow this system and bring a whole new Communist world into being.”

    “No protest is peaceful, we want to disrupt the peace, until we get can get what we demand..”

    [ definition of Terrorism: “the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.”]

    Antifa is posting videos online on how you can smash windshields, cut seatbelts and drag people from their vehicles:

    What she meant was…. “i’ve seen some cars getting away when protesters tried to stop them, here’s a tool which should hopefully smash their window and cut their seatbelt so we can drag them out and give them a beat down” problem solved.

    A 60-year-old man in Provo, Utah was shot by an Antifa terrorist Monday night as he tried to escape a Black Lives Matter mob that had taken over an intersection and swarmed his SUV.

    • Dear Myst,
      I found the story of protestors allegedly attacking a man for praying troubling, so I looked it up.


      I don’t agree with attacking him… But FYI, his shirt says “All Paws Matter”, which is a denigration of the “Black Lives Matter” slogan. Since Black Lives Matter is against police killings of blacks, the term “All Paws Matter” implies an analogy between killing blacks and killing dogs. It’s pretty insulting.See photo here:
      So… he is not being attacked really for just “praying the rosary in front of a statue of St. Louis” as has been alleged.

      • ” Since Black Lives Matter is against police killings of blacks, the term ‘All Paws Matter’ implies an analogy between killing blacks and killing dogs.”

        All Paws Matter is real animal rescue group throughout Canada, USA, and Mexico.  BLM is against police killings of blacks (all of what 13 killed in 2019?), because they’re against police altogether (literal abolishment is the ultimate goal), because they’re Black Supremacists, thus the problem they have with All Lives Matter.  And, even given the assumption that the guy was wearing APM as comment on BLM, it would be valid, because all dogs lives are equally important, just like humans ALM.  The reason BLM is triggered All Lives Matter because then black crime against non blacks isn’t valid, self defense against black criminals is justified, and police have a reason to exist and use force against black crime.  I doubt the Catholic guy ever imagined the shirt could seen as reducing the killing of blacks to that a human killing dogs, and I’d look at the video to see what the four guys assaulting him said exactly, because I doubt even they read that into it, but Youtube seems to have purged it.  At this point conservatives need to uploading onto alternative platforms as at least as a backup, because censoring violence by non-whites is becoming more and more common.

        Reddit bans content showing people of color as the aggressor:

        • The counterprotestor who was allegedly attacked was hardly wearing All Paws Maater as a pure coincidence at a BLM protest. Clearly he was wearing it as a counter signal against BLM. And as a counter signal, All Paws Matter implies a comparison of blacks to dogs, even if by itself, All Paws Matter does not draw such a comparison. Further, wearing such a shirt to a BLM protest, the person clearly was not just someone who came just to pray the rosary or something else innocuous.

          • Will Harrington says

            It does not matter. The idea that words are violence and justify what was done to him is evil. Consider that BLM is led by admitted “trained Marxists” (their words) to understand what is going on. It is not complicated and racism is only a pretext. Black lives do not matter to the hard left as they have murdered black children and burned black homes and businesses since this Marxist revolution began. It doesn’t matter what t-shirt that man was wearing. Activist revolutionaries showed up to instill terror.

            • Will,
              Did you see the photo?:
              Myst’s claim, which I have seen elsewhere, was that protestors at a BLM protest attacked a man for praying the rosary. In my response, I wrote that while I disagree with attacking the person, the photo suggests that is also mistaken to assert that he was attacked just for “praying the rosary”. Clearly, based on the photo of his aggressive muscular triumphant look, he was a counter-protestor aiming at aggressive conflict with the BLM activists, and the counter-protestor’s All Paws Matter shirt was aimed at comparing blacks killed by police to dogs being killed. One need not agree with wrestling the counterprotestor to see that this was not a simple case of someone being attacked just for “praying the rosary at church.”

      • Forgive me, Hal, but if I was offended to the point of violence about every foul T-shirt, bumper-sticker, or tattoo my eyes (and my grandchildren’s eyes) have been forced to endure there would be a lot of blood on the streets.
        Freedom of expression…sure.  Until the godless, tyrannical Left disagrees.  They have rights.  The rest of us do not and must bend to their every whimsical feeling of offence?  There is no limit to what offends them.
        Your argument holds no water.  Which is not to imply that I would ever consider wearing such a T-shirt.

        • Brian, as I said it my comment, I don’t agree with him being attacked, like you. But my point is that it turns out that it is really not a case of someone being atracked for praying the rosary, but for wearing a shirt comparing killing of blacks to killing of dogs at a protest against killing of blacks.

          • Oh yes, what a horrible T-shirt.


            I’m still trying to understand your point. That he wasn’t attacked for praying the Rosary? Oh, I see see. It was his T-shirt (or so you say). That explains it. Someone found it offensive so clearly they were incited.

            If one is to believe snopes, there is yet more to the story that is less than flattering about the man they attacked and also has much more positives to relate about the group of Catholics (including priests) that was there. Yet even if the negative aspects are true, one wonders how it is that the American Nazi party can peacefully protest (with police protection no less) in Skokie, IL, but these folks (who, by the way, were simply there to support the preservation of the name of their beloved city in front of a statue of their saint whose name it bears) are so offensive their protest was deemed intolerable.

            An enlightening quote from the snopes story…

            “Terrance Page, the man in the blue bandanna who struck Paul, told KMOV that he believed some of the people at this protest were part of terrorist groups and that they needed to be met with force. Page said: “It’s not acceptable, our country as a whole has failed to do it, that’s it.”



        • Sage-Girl says

          yes — the “tyrannical Godless Left” – lets hope the left leaning priests are waking up — was it you who coined hilarious 
          “Black Robes Matter” ? 
          Just imagine seeing Archbishops, Bishops, Priests marching outside Istanbul waving big signs outside Patriarch’s house :
          ➕Black Robes Matter!!➕

      • Black Lives Matter is not about bringing justice and equality to black people.  It is a Marxist organization founded by three lesbian women hell bent on world wide revolution.  You are deceived. The roots of BLM are clearly explained by a black pastor named Bishop Larry Gaiters.  Find him and you will be well informed on this PAGAN revolutionary movement.

        • Pat Reardon says

          Black Lives Matter is not about bringing justice and equality to black people.  It is a Marxist organization founded by three lesbian women hell bent on world wide revolution.  You are deceived.
          Really, Hal. This information is not so difficult to find.
          Un-deceive yourself.

    • cynthia curran says

      I saw that. I mean the Utah shooter.

      • Cynthia,
        Since you replied to me about the Provo incident, I looked it up, and as with the St. Louis incident, it turns out that there is much more to the story than the anti-BLM/anti-Antifa take shows. Namely, the Salt Lake Tribune reports that the driver had actually sped his SUV through the protestors (Source:
        Certainly one need not agree with the reaction of the shooter, but nor is this a simple case out of Antifai protestors shooting someone for being in a car near them, it turns out. Unfortunately in the last several years there has actually been several cases of car drivers running their cars recklessly through protestors, knowing that their car will hit the protestors.
        The Anti-Blm polemics actually resemble the COVID hysteria. Sure, Covid is a real danger as there are 100,000 dead from it, and there are real instances of violence from certain BLM protest participants, but to ban singing in church or ban communion or totally close services is an overreaction, and it turns out on closer investigation of the two above mentioned major touted instances of BLM protestor violence that there is blame on both sides.

        • Did you actually watch the video, or did you focus in on the highly misleading line of the story that read  “…a man shot the driver of an SUV that sped through a crowd of protesters.”?
          If you watch the video, the driver did nothing of the kind.  He was in the right turn lane intending to turn right, moving forward slowly, was  surrounded by screaming angry  protesters, moved his vehicle slowly through them in the hope of escape, and only when the his slow movement forward caused them to clear the way did he speed away – apparently after being shot.
          The shooters were charged with crimes; the driver was not.
          Assuming you came upon such a protest unawares (and there is nothing that suggests otherwise), what would you or any of one of us have done differently?

          • Brian,
            The Salt Lake Tribune article also says that the SUV was driving through the crowd and knocking protesters with the car. After your comment I looked up the video of the SUV being shot at and at the video it shows the white SUV surrounded bye protesters and the white SUV driving through them so that it is physically knocking into them and then you can hear a shot fired and then SUV speeds up well they’re still people in the path. (Source:’s understandable that SUV with speed up after it’s fired at, but on the other hand if you are in a car in a road and stopped and there are pedestrians in front of the driver, then even if it is a green light for you, it is still The Driver’s Responsibility not to knock into the pedestrians with a car. The fact that the protesters are protesting against police killings of blacks is hardly a justification for knocking into the protesters, and while it’s wrong to shoot the aggressive violent drivers who do this it’s also not a simple case of some one at a protest randomly shooting a driver who is a bystander. There are actually numerous videos over the years of drivers knocking into or severely harming progressive pedestrians exercising their right to assembly.

            • Hal.
              If that is what your eyes choose to see, I refer you to Fr. Patrick’s comment in this thread.  I will comment no further.

            • “There are actually numerous videos over the years of drivers knocking into or severely harming progressive pedestrians exercising their right to assembly.”

              Any time “progressive pedestrians” block roads, they’ve no longer exercising their right to peaceful assembly; but are engaged in kidnapping, and if they attack the vehicle in way, assault, and even attempted murder. Not sure when Democrats decided they had the right to take away the freedom of others to travel, and hold them hostage, but it needs to end, by being aggressively prosecuted everytime they do it.

            • Antiochene Son says

              A driver who suddenly finds himself in the middle of a violent mob has the right of self-defense. Ask Reginald Denny.

              It is clear that blocking streets and attacking vehicles in order to get people run over for agitprop material is a tactic. The law must side with the driver who is lawfully going about their business, rather than those who are intentionally putting themselves in danger.

      • Cynthia, the July 1 Salt Lake City Tribune article “Police arrest two people after shooting of man who drove through crowd of protesters in Provo” said: “a large, white SUV heading south on University Avenue pushed its way through a crowd of protesters, knocking several of them aside.” The SUV did a “hit and run” on the protestors. It turns out that this turns out not to be a simple case of a protestor shooting a normal car driver as the anti-Left post implied.
        One need not support the shooting of the hit and run driver to see that we are dealing with a polemical anti-protestor atmosphere comparable in hysteria with the church-shutdown COVID hysteria.

  3. This is not persecution–it is an invitation to stop being Orthodox. Persecution will only happen if Orthodox start resisting and decide for themselves whether it is better to serve God or the secular authorities. Personally, I find it abhorrent that anyone Orthodox would look to Ceasar for permission to give or receive Christ’s body and blood. The Church has wondered for a long time why young men are not coming to services. Young people hate weakness and hypocrisy, and this grovelling before authorities taking away baptism, communion, agape meals, holy water just shows what youth have been sensing all along: a show without substance. We have no business asking forgiveness for something we plan to keep on doing! Or not doing. We should be asking for repentance, the turning from our evil acceptance of lukewarm attitude. I pray that when this comes to the state I live in, that I and hopefully the entire congregation will COME FORWARD when invited to receive and stay there until the priest gets some courage knowing we are in it TOGETHER serving our Lord, not the beast. May God grant us all some testicular fortitude!

  4. Nicholas says

    I cannot begin to express my sorrow and also my outright anger. The leaders of our faith have rolled over to the New World Order being pushed by the Judas’s in our midst. The church “nobelmen” have sold out to mammon.

  5. Alitheia 1875 says

    Some years ago a priest in Greece did not offer the Eucharist to those in attendance at the end of a liturgy because he was tired of people not coming forth to commune. He was promptly suspended by his bishop. Is there a message there for the bishops of today?

  6. I think it’s about time to start storming the bishops residences and letting them know how we truly feel. Or show it financially.

    They would rather defend the pro-Marxist BLM rather than give access to the sacraments. It’s seems as though here in North America we are apparently sailing blind without our captains.

  7. Michael Bauman says

    Two things: the state is not in charge of history (real history-the Death and Resurection of Jesus Christ) John 18 makes that point abundantly clear and relates to the current situation in many ways.

  8. What are the Bishops saying.  This is their hill to die on

  9. Facebook login just goes to a login and I cancelled my FB account years ago. No I am not going back. Would it be possible to post it to something like bitbucket?

  10. I have heard that this is being extended to all of Canada. But I have a few questions.

    Are all the Greek Orthodox Churches complying?
    Are all other jurisdictions complying?
    Did this also extend to the Roman Catholics? Are they complying?
    Why are the Hierarchs (including Patriarchs) dead silent about this?

    • Gail Sheppard says

      No, they are not complying according to that letter. At least not the 2 Greek priests or the 4 churches under the GCT, according to the letter. Have no idea about the Catholics.

  11. Michael Bauman says

    Geroge, As I read the guidelines on the website, they are not as draconian as it appears (as least to me). From what I understand the suspension of Holy Communion was done by the Greek Archbishop largely in response to entreaties from the Greek Orthodox community.

    As a wise friend said: “The state can do us not harm. The harm we suffer comes from within”

    Maybe you should put this under the category of Bishops Behaving Badly.

    John 18 covers this too BTW

    • Gail Sheppard says

      They banned communion on the website. That’s pretty draconian, in my book.

      The suspension was done under the city’s directive. (See Link) The argument now is whether or not Toronto was pressured.

      In a letter dated July 3, Toronto’s Associate Medical Officer of Health, Nick Georgakopoulos, who also happens to be the 1st Vice President and Treasurer of the GCT said that, “. . .both the priests of the GCT’s four churches and the Archdiocese have advised us that communion WILL indeed continue, with the consent of the Chief Medical Officer of Ontario . . .”

      If the suspension was initiated by the Greek Archbishop, “largely in response to entreaties from the Greek Orthodox community” as you claim, then when the city banned communion, why did they continue doing it anyway?

      I’m not sure who was behaving badly. Instead of “badly,” I would use the word “ignorantly.” It is, however, nice to hear a priest stand up for the truth.

    • Antiochene Son says

      It wouldn’t surprise me. The church would be happy to disobey these insane orders if it wasn’t for the wicked wolves among the sheep who tattle to the bishop or the police over violations. 
      If you are scared of the chalice then stay home. But these “whistleblowers” ought to be excommunicated. 

      • George Michalopulos says

        AS, you caused me to have a Thought experiment: What if the local city government or health department or governor of some Blue State told the local GOA parishes that they couldn’t have their annual festival? Do you think there’d be some push-back then?

        This is a sincere question by the way –I’m not trying to be snarky.

        • Antiochene Son says

          If this had happened early on, and the church was open but the festival was canceled, that might cause some anger. But today, I think the mindset has already shifted and people have generally accepted the new reality of no social gatherings at church. And I think a certain amount of people will be purged by this. Those who turned the church into a social club, absent any social aspect, will find other hobbies. I know at my own parish there were some such questionable people who have not been back, even though there are available seats to sign up for.
          And some people have gotten a weird thrill from shutting things down, even if it negatively affects them and their interests.

          • I’ve noticed that some of our members have totally dropped out of sight, now that we’re allowed up to 75 people per service. We have so many services during the week, too. But have they come back? Nope. (Those of lackluster faith are the first to scatter!)

  12. I appreciate that you are keeping up on criticizing the hysterical overreaction that imposes severe restriction on church worship.

    The Orthochristian website has an in depth investigatory article showing that a Greek Community organization in Toronto is responsible for bringing major governmental pressure to bear on the Greek church’s metropolia of Toronto to stop sharing communion. Next, the pressure has resulted in suspension of communion in the Greek church across Ontario, well beyond the governmental restriction in Ontario. The article notes that “letters published by the Greek Community of Toronto (GCT), a charitable organization that owns and operates four churches in Toronto, testify that the ban was instigated by the organization and parishioners of the churches themselves, while the city seemed to be laxer on enforcing the requirements… the Metropolis sent instructions for priests to suspend offering Holy Communion to the faithful. The order went beyond the four churches owned by the GCT, as a video originally published on the Metropolis’ YouTube page showed Fr. Fanourios Pappas announcing the ban at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Toronto, which is not one of the churches operated by the GCT. An SMS conversation posted by the GCT also indicates that the Metropolis’ ban extends to all of Ontario, not just the city of Toronto.”

    It is worth noting that some corporate mass media sources have claimed that California’s governor has banned singing in churches. So I downloaded the actual California Health Department document that the media sources reference, and the document actually puts the discussion in a section called “Considerations”. It suggests that churches “consider” not singing because singing can increase flu transmission. The document does not actually ban singing. There is no actual ban on church singing. The problem is that if both media and church advocacy groups mistakenly think that the state has banned singing, then many churches could take it on themselves to ban singing even when there is no actual ban on it. This would be like the Ontario situation where the church there banned communion across the province even though there was a seemingly ambiguous ban limited to Toronto.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      See, I don’t think we can know the ban was instigated by GTC and the parishioners of the churches themselves. Not saying this is true, but nothing on Ortho Christianity suggests this. The GTC announcements that Ortho Christianity links to mentions the postponement of examinations and the closures of schools back in mid March, but nothing more recently about suspending communion.

      Later, there is a letter that states that Toronto’s Associate Medical Officer of Health, Nick Georgakopoulos, is ALSO 1st Vice President and Treasurer of the GCT says “both the priests of the GCT’s four churches and the Archdiocese ‘have advised us that communion WILL indeed continue’ . . .” Doesn’t sound like anyone is pushing the ban on the Church side.

      This is a very convoluted situation.


      July 3, Toronto’s Associate Medical Officer of Health, Nick Georgakopoulos, 1st Vice President and Treasurer of the GCT, reports that while the city’s guidance “clearly states that ‘ALL houses of worship must suspend all communion related activities, as advised by Ontario’s chief Medical Officer of Health,’” both the priests of the GCT’s four churches and the Archdiocese “have advised us that communion WILL indeed continue,” with the consent of the Chief Medical Officer of Ontario. . .

      • To start with, the Toronto rules have some ambiguity when taken by themselves, because they are put under the heading of “guidance” and says that the suspension is to be down “as advised”. Giving guidance or Advising to do something is not the same as an order.
        General Guidance
         Suspend all communion-related activities as advised by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.
        Further, the Orthochristian site gave information that off the record, the Toronto authorities were interpreting this rule as flexible…. until the Greek community organization, which took a strict view of the rule, insisted on a clarification, which was resolved against the churches sharing communion.
        In any case, the most remarkable comment that I would make here is that the metropolis’ ban on all sharing communion in Ontario certainly goes far beyond the government’s Toronto ban.

        • Gail Sheppard says

          Thanks, Hal, but there is a missing link here, i.e. the metropolis’ ban on sharing communion in Ontario. Where is it? I believe it exists because if everything were so “flexible” this priest wouldn’t be this upset.

          I want to know how this all came ‘aboot’ (that’s Canadian, right?!), ‘don’t cha know’ (OK, that’s minnesotan; I’m clearly getting carried away).

        • Antiochene Son says

          “until the Greek community organization, which took a strict view of the rule, insisted on a clarification”
          These are truly the worst kind of people.

    • Fr Jeremiah says

      Hal S.,
      While you are right that the cessation of singing/chanting is mentioned under the “Considerations” section of the CA COVID-19 Industry Guidance for Places of Worship document, what people are referring to is found on page 3 of the document, not under the “Considerations” section at the end of the document.

      Here is what is found on page 3:
      “Even with adherence to physical distancing, convening in a congregational setting of multiple different households to practice a personal faith carries a relatively higher risk for widespread transmission of the COVID-19 virus, and may result in increased rates of infection, hospitalization, and death, especially among more vulnerable populations. In particular, activities such as singing and chanting negate the risk reduction achieved through six feet of physical distancing.
      *Places of worship must therefore discontinue indoor singing and chanting activities and limit indoor attendance to 25% of building capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees, whichever is lower. Local Health Officers are advised to consider appropriate limitations on outdoor attendance capacities, factoring their jurisdiction’s key COVID-19 health indicators. At a minimum, outdoor attendance should be limited naturally through implementation of strict physical distancing measures of a minimum of six feet between attendees from different households, in addition to other relevant protocols within this document.” (Emphasis mine)

      Here is the link to the document:

      This clearly shows that CA has banned singing/chanting in the state. What they will or are willing to do to enforce the ban is the real question.

      • Thanks for pointing this out. I missed that part. Nonetheless, it seems ambiguous and not as strict as it initially sounds for a few reasons:

        The part that you refer to is in the “purpose” section. That section says that the document is providing “guidance” and that the churches “must” discontinue indoor singing. Further, the implementation of the “purpose” section is in the “Considerations” section, where discontinuing singing is one of the “considerations” listed.
        If someone gives you “guidance” whereby you “must” do something, this actually can carry ambiguity depending on the circumstances. Your guardian can give you “guidance” that you “must” wash your hands before each meal, but depending on how strict your parent is, this can mean different things: eg. as a general principle or literally always before every meal no matter what. Since there are no penalties mentioned and it’s not stated that this is a requirement of remaining open, it remains to be seen how strictly this “guidance” will be construed. I agree with you therefore- an important issue is what they will do to enforce the ban. If it’s construed strictly, then a constitutional challenge can be raised as to how risky or safe singing is vs. one’s right to practice one’s religion. I see numerous California churches insisting on continuing singing, making that a hard needless “guidance” to enforce.
        The “guidance” is not a ban on all singing per se, but it turns out that it is a ban on “indoors” singing. So you can still actually have services outdoors and still have singing. One of my first responses when the churches started shutting down was that realistically services could still be held outdoors safely without major risk of transmission.Thanks for your input, Fr. Jeremiah. 

        • Thankful says

          Thank you; this is the point people are missing.   ‘Guidance’ is not law and carries no force of law or penalty.  People are voluntarily bowing to this use of soft power (seemingly out of fear or ignorance or both).

          Guidance is not law no matter what any official may say and especially no matter what the media may say.  Just because the language says ‘must’, does not obligate one to comply.  It is guidance.
          This is what is known as DECEPTION.  They are not ouright ‘lying’ per se, but are using language to confuse and terrorize people’s sensibility.

          • Exactly, Thankful. 
            The actual implication/ramification of such “guidance” is that if the “guidance” isn’t followed, the party who approves anything against the “guidance” could be held legally responsible for any potential negative outcome.   That would be our bishops. “Terrorize” is a good choice of word.

            • Thankful and Brian,
              I found a good article analyzing the California announcement, which says that in fact the announcement was guidance or a recommendation, and not a law or an order, for the reasons that I mentioned in my earlier Comment. See below:
              LETTER TO CALIFORNIA CLERGY July 3, 2020 OSHA Prohibition On Singing & Chanting (or “the day the music died”)
              Added by Debra Tash on July 8, 2020.

              • Hal,
                Lest I be misunderstood, I agree with you (in general) and with the legal opinion of Debra Tash you linked directly above.
                But a legal opinion is just that: an opinion, well informed though it may be.  The question is whether the governments in question share this opinion.  Attorneys have lots of opinions that do not not withstand specific court rulings – particularly those of courts who are not well disposed toward point of view of the opinion.
                Until the governmental body explicitly expresses its agreement with the opinion, it is free to interpret its “guidance” or, as you put it, “ban on indoor singing” in any way they choose.  Thus, anyone who chooses to interpret this as mere “guidance” (as opposed to a ban) subjects themselves to the possibility of the government choosing to interpret its “guidance” as enforceable under the law.

                • Brian,
                  You write:
                  {{ a legal opinion is just that: an opinion, well informed though it may be.  The question is whether the governments in question share this opinion.}}
                  The Opinion is that OSHA made a recommendation, not a regulation. In case the Opinion is correct and the government mistakenly disagrees with the Opinion, it would be overstepping its authority and would be subject to reversal by anyone affected who challenged an exercise of that overstepping. 
                  Of course, OSHA could go a step further and actually make a real regulation banning church singing. But I think that in California and in the US in general there is not enough popular support for a ban on church singing for it to stand up to scrutiny if contested in Court. The courts give the executive branch discretion, but they couldn’t legally just unreasonably shut down everything with no real justification. 
                  A key term here is “reasonable”. One problem that you have is that many people do buy into the hypochondriac virus hysteria. And if the virus was far far worse, like almost as bad as in Stephen King’s The Stand, then shutting down services or banning singing would be reasonable. This is because flus are airborne and singing increases transmission. But that is not the actual current situation.

                  • Hal,
                    I understand what you are saying.  I really do.  But what you are saying is precisely my point. 
                    Defending one’s self or one’s organization in court in order to affirm one’s rights (particularly against a government with nearly endless resources) is both difficult and expensive (just ask General Flynn and many others).  All it takes is an overzealous enforcement agency and/or a government official with an ax to grind (either against Christ and His Church or simply those who despise freedom in the name of public health – the type of people who chase down loan surfers and such) to cause a massive hassle and expense.  The mere possibility of having to defend one’s self in court (even if one ultimately wins) is, by itself, enough to dissuade most.  Thus my agreement with Thankful’s characterization.
                    And what, by the way, gives OSHA either the right or responsibility to provide any “guidance” whatsoever on matters of religious practice?  The Board of Heath or the CDC perhaps, but not OSHA.

            • It looks to me like the same reasoning used to define the California announcement as just “guidance” could apply to the Toronto “guidance” announcement as well.

      • Antiochene Son says

        They can’t enforce what they don’t know about. Don’t livestream services and don’t let non-communicants into the building. That’s how it was for most of history anyway. 

  13. Mother of Five says

    If the Orthodox Church, as a whole, across all jurisdictions, does not start to clearly fight for our faith, I believe it is only a matter of time before we see the same gut wrenching videos from countless parishes in the United States and all over the world. WAKE UP! We can not be in the middle of the road and not be run over…we must ALL stand firmly on the side of the Church. With God. The government is not appeased by us “meeting halfway”. They have pulled the Church into the road…no, the church has walked, willingly, into the road, telling its parishioners “this is the path to safety, to love” but they are leading us to destruction. With every day that passes, that they say nothing, they are disarming the church. The faith. Themselves. And many of their flock. In the words of my mother, “pray”. It’s time to pray like never before.

    • Chris Banescu says

      When will the Orthodox Bishops in America and Canada finally speak out against this unjustified tyranny directed at Christians specifically and denounce the persecution of the Orthodox Church?  WHEN?

      Our courageous Protestant brethren are putting our bishops to shame. Many Christian pastors have publicly spoken out against this travesty, are challenging these unconstitutional mandates, and are fighting to defend their Christian faith and the right to freely worship Christ.

      Meanwhile we hear crickets from the Orthodox hierarchy. Their silence is deafening.

      Your graces, do your jobs and fulfill your sacred duties. Defend your flocks and the Holy Orthodox Church!

      “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

      “Not only for every idle word must man give an account, but for every idle silence.” ~ St. Ambrose

      • George Michalopulos says

        Very well said, Chris.

      • Michael Bauman says

        Chris, the order also effects Moslems, Jews, Hindus and Buddhist gatherings not to mention various “New Age” rituals, Native American who do a lot of chanting and share personal space a lot as well.
        It is, on further reading and some consultation with my brother, Draconian but, “directed at Christians” specifically is a stretch IMO.  
        The state does what stated do, react in fear to control through force.  That is the only tool state actors have.  
        Is it tryannical?  Yes.  But it’s about time we endured a little suffering don’t you think? 
        Let’s see what we are made of…. Glory to God, strengthen us in love mercy and discernment to follow your Will and grant courage and wisdom to our Bishops and priests.

        As a recovering rageaholic it is not prudent for me to get incensed even in a righteous cause. I was reading a bit of the life of St. Moses the Black this morning and that stood out to me.

        • Thankful says

          It is Guidance, not an ‘Order’.

          • Chris Banescu says

            No. It’s an ORDER. It specifically says “must” be complied with:

            Places of worship must therefore discontinue singing and chanting activities and limit indoor attendance to 25% of building capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees, whichever is lower.


            • Chris,
              Despite the term “must”, the “guidance” is not an order as the Pacific Justice Institute’s analysis explains in depth:
              The term “must” does not necessarily demand compliance depending on the context. If your aunt gives you some “positive guidance” that you “must feed your dog vegetarian food 4 times a day for it to be the healthiest”, you don’t have a requirement that you do it. One reason is that you are not a minor living under your aunt’s roof. And even if you were, she did not say that you must do it for your dog to survive or for you to be in compliance with her rules. The same thing applies here. There is no declaration that this is an official law, order, or regulation with penalties imposed for violation, but rather the guidance are put in the Purpose and Considerations section of the document. To say the least, this tends to imply that it’s not an official regulation.
              Further, OSHA’s authority covers workplace employees’ safety, and as the document explains, singers and lay volunteers don’t count.

            • Antiochene Son says

              What if people just ignore the order?

          • Michael Bauman says

            Mother of 5:  How do we “fight for our faith” and how does that fit with John 18 and 2 Chronicles 7:14 among other similar directions and admonitions and the examples of the saints?   
            I am not being argumentative. I just feel the how is critical.

            • “How do we ‘fight for our faith’ and how does that fit with John 18 and 2 Chronicles 7:14 among other similar directions and admonitions and the examples of the saints?”

              Fr. Stephen De Young, starting about 1:01:00 into audio:

              “It is one of the most misquoted passages in the Bible, at least in my lifetime, because nine times out of ten, that I’ve seen that verse, (2 Chronicles 7:14), whoever is quoting it is talking about America.  This verse has nothing to do with America, America did not exist when this verse was written, nobody had thought about it when it was written.  This is talking directly to, at the time of Solomon…”

      • Antiochene Son says

        The baptist church across the street from me never closed at any point during the fearful days of March and April, and the parking lot was full every Sunday. God bless them. Their faith may be wrong in some points, but it is bold, which is what many Orthodox sadly lack.

  14. It’s not approximating the 1917 revolution or USSR because the Soviets never actually banned the nation’s services or any of the largest city’s church services. The Soviets had anti religious agitation and severely punished many clergy before WW2 on often exaggerated charges of being against the Revolution. But generally their goal was economic Socialism and religion was considered something that people would eventually stop believing it as their lives got better and they got educated about materialist science. It was considered a waste or opium, but not something inherently directly opposed to Socialism. As a result, the Soviets never had a need to ban the nation’s or largest cities’ religious services per se.
    Also, the Soviet officials were actually always pretty mixed on religious topics. Different officials had mixed ideas about God, with some leaders being apparently secret Orthodox believers. Before WW2, there was the mixed Orthodox/liberal Protestant style Renewalist church sect that the state promoted, whereas after WW2, the state had a detente with the church and helped the Orthodox Church to come back, arranged for it to have Local Councils, etc.
    The COVID restriction situation is far more extreme in terms of effect on services, with there being whole cities with no Orthodox services where any laity can attend or commune. Yet on the other hand there is no overt anti religious teaching. There is no open government promotion of ideas that religion is superstition. I do think that behind the Greek church’s Ontario rule that you cant share communion is an implicit idea that the communion food could be means of transmitting illness, which conflicts with the traditional Orthodox view.

    • Yet on the other hand there is no overt anti religious teaching.
      If by this you mean that we are free to ‘believe’ whatever we choose then I agree.  But the word “religion” implies belief and practice
      Open your eyes.  Overt anti-religious anti religious teaching is everywhere in government, business…

    • “As a result, the Soviets never had a need to ban the nation’s or largest cities’ religious services per se.”

      The Soviets closed and/or destroyed the overwhelmingly majority of churches, and left about 1/60 (one out of sixty) open, for PR purposes to show how tolerant they were, while using much of the clergy as double agents to keep files on people’s confessions, etc.  This was more effective than forcing Orthodoxy completely underground, because a rift develops between the catacombs and the compromised.–1941)#cite_note-4

      In the period between 1927 and 1940, the number of Orthodox Churches in the Russian Republic fell from 29,584 to less than 500.[4]

      • I agree that PR was a reason for keeping Soviet churches open. But I wouldn’t take the view that that officially recognizing the Church, as well as the other pro-Church measures, like arranging for the 1943 and 1945 Councils should be seen as steps taken by the Soviets because they were meant as more effective in stopping the Church wholly than “forcing the Church underground”.
        One explanation is that typically in Stalin’s monolithic approach, if he strongly wanted some societal organization to disappear, he would have banned it, and religion is not an exception. One example is the Greek Catholic church in Ukraine, which officially reconciled with the Orthodox Church and had its buildings converted into EO Churches and otherwise officially disappeared. Had the purgative course of the 1930’s continued, maybe eventually in 100 years all churches might gave closed, but fortunately that did not happen. 
        Further, in 1943 and 1945, the steps to encourage the Church cannot be explained as simply an issue of the State finding it more effective to destroy the church by taking these measures. That is because the measures, like for instance Soviet recognition of the Church in the 1930’s, clearly did not add to the Church’s destruction, but rather to its survival and eventual revival.
        So to give a hypothetical, imagine that there were dozens of churches in Russia operating with liturgies. Would it be more effective to repress church life by shutting 100% of them down totally and destroying the buildings like in Saudi Arabia or like the Reich did to the synagogues, or to shut a big majority down and let the rest remain active like the Soviets did? Certainly the Saudi example would be more effective in studying church life. So I don’t agree with the statement “This was more effective than forcing Orthodoxy completely underground”. The repressions in the Soviet period did not succeed in stopping the church, and nor did the State target the Church with the same degree of virulence that they targeted Fascist parties or Bourgeois or Monarchist political groups, or apparently the Greek Catholics. I am not saying this to diminish the scale of repression against the Church, but to point out that the State did not put in the same amount if effort, nor did it act to immediately stop the Church in the most effective means at its disposal.
        This Spring I read material on the survival of the Church in that period, partly because of the Church’s remarkable survival in the face of adversity, and because it was a relevant situation, as people did have difficulty with church attendance. We are not facing the same situation now, and ironically perhaps, it’s because in the Spring there were massive closures of Churches in the US. As  I mentioned, there were “whole cities with no Orthodox services where any laity can attend or commune”. Were it not for Rocor, it would have been alot harder to find open churches in that period. And there were even ROCOR parishes that imposed restrictions…

    • Tim R. Mortiss says

      Where would one even start to reply to these assertions about the Bolsheviks and the Church? Makes me feel old indeed to read something like this….

      • Tim,
        Let me pose the issue to you in another form…: Are there ways in which Church life is more restricted due to anti-Covid measures than at any time in the USSR? Certainly Yes. Toronto officials are apparently taking steps to prevent sharing communion in church, as well as imposing many other restrictions in the guidelines. California has senseless, ambiguous recommendations or an order to stop singing in church. How is singing while masked more contagious than talking loudly while masked? The Soviets did not ban communion sharing or singing in Moscow or the Republics of Ukraine or Georgia. So in some ways there are stricter measures here…
        But on the other hand, the justification given now for restrictions is health safety, not that religion is superstition. So in another way, it’s hard to equate the situations.

        • That’s because they realized that directly attacking the Church through violence didn’t work, so they’re doing it by appealing to peoples’ ‘virtues’ now. Same reason why ‘love’ (the supreme Christian virtue) is being used to push for the acceptance of sodomy and the rest.

        • Tim R. Mortiss says

          It illustrates the old maxim “comparisons are odious”. Thus, Trump equals Hitler, Covid restrictions equal the Bolshevik persecution of the Church and the faithful, etc. Empty rhetoric. One has nothing to do with the other. One must retain a sense of proportion, after all.

          • George Michalopulos says

            TimR, I don’t disagree with you.  The persecution we are feeling is nothing like the Catacombs or the Gulag.  Yet we must remember that both the Catacombs nor the Gulag began began with a whimper, not a bang.

            • cynthia curran says

              The catacombs were an on and off persecution due to the local Roman population mood toward christians. Remember, burning incense to the emperor’s salute or the gods met you were a good Roman..  Unlike the Jews, the early christians didn’t have exemptions on this.Felicita, the carthage maryri was killed because the  Roman local governor wanted to make a case of Christians. The worst was the late 3rd century when Romans reach into all the social classes and made up 10 percent of the population. Decius, Galerius, and Diocletian were the height of it.

  15. “Reading the tea leaves,” as it were, of the momentum of the current cultural revolution, it was just a matter of time before they came for the churches. What’s next will likely be physical attacks on them and believers who try to attend church. From my stiff-necked sinner’s perspective, I don’t think it’s because we’re weak or terrible sinners per se — the fact that ancient prayers seem to speak directly to us suggests that the struggles of today were the struggles of yesterday. No, I think it’s because something in the spiritual realm has shifted due to a general falling away on the part of the world and a conscious attempt on the part of various interests to invoke the fallen realm and feed off of that “power.” So now, the demonic is manifesting itself more openly in different ways, including in various societal and political institutions .

    So maybe this is a blessing??? An opportunity to show strength and resistance, to show which side one is really on? I’m guessing this will be a kind of martyrdom on all levels — what political programs will you support and what will you be asked to do as a result. Maybe placing hope or confidence in civil authorities that long ago decided to reject God is misplaced and the Church should begin to go Her own way — into the virtual and physical catacombs. I’m not smart or spiritual enough to know what that will involve but I pray the Church and Her Bishops will provide a road map.

    So, are we getting to the point where confessions are done on zoom and liturgies watched on line or held in homes, with priests driving to the homes of the faithful to commune them in private out of the prying eyes of the State? Any thoughts, George?

  16. Gail Sheppard says

    So this is why George and I are so happy with our own little home away from home.  We never have to worry about being turned away and fellowship is just a given.

    • If only our US hierarchs believed as theirs do.  And if only we werethe faithful God-loving people they are. Praying someday each of us will repent individually. Praying our nation will repent so we may be forgiven for our faithlessness and disrespect for God’s laws, creation, and for all icons of Christ ~ born and in the womb. There is much to learn and acknowledge from this Patriarch’s assessment.

  17. Oh but won’t everyone be so happy when Bill Gate’s ID2020 vaxx with it’s MIT digital tattoo comes along that “will save the day” get the vaxx with it’s accompanying microchip tattoo and all will be fine you can go back to how everything was before, everything (!) just like before (!) the little matter of having the mark of the beast, just, just try to not worry about it too much it’s invisible and you are now so socially responsible in so many ways just, just don’t worry .. .. 

  18. Mom of Toddler says

    I am guessing many Orthodox priests will have no problem defending why it’s fine for Orthodox children to go out and celebrate Halloween and read Harry Potter (we are so constrained by our former Protestant legalism, you know) but will have major problems with defending Holy Communion when times get tough.  Reminds me a lot of Fr. Peter Heer’s latest segment on the Orthodox Ethos.  I have been saying for a while (in my own home) that we must be near the end times when 99% of Orthodox Christian parents, including priests, are “bathing their children in Harry Potter” and see no problem with it.  (Not trying to bring up the author now…just the books.)   Also, it has been my thought that the percentage of Orthodox Christians that let their children relish in books about witchcraft would probably be the percentage taking the mark of the beast.   It’s not sounding so crazy now, is it?  Look what is now happening!!   These are not trivial things.  All of our compromises add up.  How many Orthodox Christians don’t even care that half of vaccines available today are made with aborted fetal tissue?  And how many would say that that is fine because Pope Francis said it was …What is happening now is tragic, sad, and awful, but is it really that surprising?

  19. MomofToddler says

    I am guessing many Orthodox priests will have no problem defending why it’s fine for Orthodox children to go out and celebrate Halloween and read Harry Potter (we are so constrained by our former Protestant legalism, you know) but will have major problems with defending Holy Communion when times get tough.  Reminds me a lot of Fr. Peter Heer’s latest segment on the Orthodox Ethos.  I have been saying for a while (in my own home) that we must be near the end times when 99% of Orthodox Christian parents, including priests, are “bathing their children in Harry Potter” and see no problem with it.  (Not trying to bring up the author now…just the books.)   Also, it has been my thought that the percentage of Orthodox Christians that let their children relish in books about witchcraft would probably be the percentage taking the mark of the beast.   It’s not sounding so crazy now, is it?  Look what is now happening!!   These are not trivial things.  All of our compromises add up.  How many Orthodox Christians don’t even care that half of vaccines available today are made with aborted fetal tissue?  And how many would say that that is fine because Pope Francis said it was …What is happening now is tragic, sad, and awful, but is it really that surprising?

    • Michael Bauman says

      MOT. Good points.  Harry Potter is clearly occult, but what of The Lord of the Rings? 

      • MomofToddler says

        I have read that some monks say Lord of the Rings, etc is fantasy literature and therefore is not ideal.  I personally have never read Lord of the Rings so I can’t comment on it.  (Never been interested.)  The movies are too scary for me.   I am the product of a secular culture and upbringing….so while its obvious to me that Harry Potter is no good, for Lord of the Rings I just go by what Orthodox people I trust say, which is that fantasy literature overall is not ideal for Orthodox to read.  I read This Hideous Strength and Perelandra by C.S. Lewis in December and felt like I gained a lot from them as far as how the world really works, but those seem to more like allegories/fables  (This Hideous Strength is kind of a playbook for current times.)  Perelandra by C.S. Lewis taught me more about how to recognize, and therefore avoid, the spirit of the antichrist than almost anything I’ve read.  The Great Divorce is clearly more of an allegory/parable.  I am more of a math/non-fiction person myself and almost never read fiction, so I don’t know a ton about it.  But one thing I do know is that I don’t like the argument that if The Chronicles of Narnia is okay, then Harry Potter must be okay too.   Even my son understood when he was 6 that a book depicting witchcraft as a good thing was wrong.  He has no interest in them and actually tried to talk one of his friends out of reading them.   I have told my son the most important thing to gain is discernment because things are not always so black-and-white and you have to listen your conscience.  If something is wrong to read and you have spiritual sensitivity, you will feel it and put it down (hopefully).  

        • Michael Bauman says

          MOT, makes sense. Being guided by one’s conscience only works when that conscience has a Christian formation and it sounds like you have done a good job.
          I tend to be a fiction guy because math and I do not fit very well for some reason and there is more room for the fullness of humanity, the unseen spaces in out hearts and souls.
          The trouble with modern fantasy however is that it is like much else, reductionistic. LOTR is no exception as I look back on it because their is no inherent connection to an incarnate God, a pure will is all that is required to triumph over the temptation to the will to power. Not true. That is unlike Narnia which is allegory rather than fantasy.
          Anytime there are occult elements, great care should be exercised as they always falsely magnify the unaided human will.
          Thank you for your perspective.

          • Michael, I believe you have grievously misread LOTR.
            “…their is no inherent connection to an incarnate God”.
            So? The story is set in a time before Christ became incarnate.
            “Anytime there are occult elements, great care should be exercised as they always falsely magnify the unaided human will.”
            There is little that is really ‘occult’ in Tolkien’s works, and where there is it always works for ill – as in Sauron’s corruption of Ar Pharazon and the Fall of Numenor. As for the Palantir, it’s use led the despair and destruction of Denethor.
            “…a pure will is all that is required to triumph over the temptation to the will to power. Not true”.
            And it is not true in the story either. Gandalf and Galadriel both refuse the Ring because they know they cannot withstand the temptation to use it and that in using it they will fall. Even Frodo, whose motives were pure and who never wanted the thing, fell in the end – only to be saved at the last by the evil in Smeagol/Gollum.
            Ultimately, in Tolkien’s world, neither Elves nor Men can triumph unaided against The Enemy. And when they do win, their victories are always partial and come at great cost.
            Nevertheless: “There is always hope.”

            • Michael Bauman says

              Brendan, I appreciate your comments. It has been a long time since I have read them. I may have made mistakes yet where does the hope come from?  What is it’s source. Anything Divine? How is the temptation to take the ring resisted if not by the will?  Frodo and the Hobbits are able to in part because they are constituted differently than the humans and elves. They don’t crave or need power as much. 
              The occult is an attraction to many even if it ends badly.  So it’s presence in stories should always be treated with great caution. I have known too many people who followed the way of the occult thinking they were different only to see them end quite badly.   So my caution when it comes to the occult is not academic.   
              Still if read with restraint, it can be fun.

              • “…where does the hope come from? What is it’s source.
                Anything Divine?”
                While there are no explicit statements, there are strong hints:

                There was more than one power at work, Frodo. The Ring was trying to get back to its master. It had slipped from Isildur’s hand and betrayed him; then when a chance came it caught poor Deagol, and he was murdered; and after that Gollum, and it had devoured him. It could make no further use of him: he was too small and mean; and as long as it stayed with him he would never leave his deep pool again. So now, when its master was awake once more and sending out his dark thought from Mirkwood, it abandoned Gollum. Only to be picked up by the most unlikely person imaginable: Bilbo from the Shire! Behind that there was something else at work, beyond any design of the Ringmaker. I can put it no plainer than by saying that Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker.”

                • Michael Bauman says

                  Brendan, in the end LOTR is an excellent description of evil and is seductive destruction. Nevertheless it lacks a superior description of goodness. It is easy to perceive goodness winning by “luck” not design. Plus humans are the most corruptible and weakest of the races.
                  But I also think the mythological matrix in which the story is told makes it tempting to over analyze and expect more from it than is actually there. In the end, it is an exceptionally written and nuanced western. Not unlike Little Big Man.

              • PS: “Brendan, I appreciate your comments.
                It has been a long time since I have read them.”
                I shall try to make them more readable…   🙂

                • Michael Bauman says

                  I meant the books. I read your comments. My construction was sloppy. Indefinite pronoun reference. Bad Michael, Bad, Bad, Bad

  20. Sage-Girl says

    ?Mrs. Gail Michalopulos:
    despite nightmare revolution, political + societal all around us – Birthday time is your right!?
    horrible news: evil violent BLM being painted as mural outside President’s Trump Tower! How ugly + frightening, it’s not just protesting now – it’s WAR!

  21. Ronda Wintheiser says
    • Sage-Girl says

      ?Thanks Ronda, this is tragic news…
      so Orthodox Church is just an accoutrement?? This is one reason why Fr Frank Morango Dean of NY cathedral quit —- I remember he said to me: “ Remember there’s TWO churches, the Corporate church + the Mystical Church — I don’t want to be in Corporate church no more”. 

  22. Michael Bauman says

    Isaiah 53:6, John 18, Matthew 4:17

  23. Open Letterto
    The Honourable Gavin Newsom, Governor of California
    His Eminence Kyrill Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America 
    in light of the decree issued by the Governor of California 
    that forbids choral singing in churches.
    Your Excellency,
    I hereby express my protest against the recent prohibition of liturgical singing in houses of worship, which is an infringement of the rights and religious freedoms of the clergy and faithful of the Western American Diocese of the Russian Diaspora, the other Local Orthodox Churches, performing their ministry in this state, as well as other religious bodies.
    During the years of Soviet rule, when the Russian Orthodox Church was subjected to persecution, Russian émigrés and their descendants comprising the Russia Church Abroad, came to the United States of America and other countries overseas, in order to freely confess their Orthodox Faith, to freely perform Divine Services, to observe the feast days, fasts and all the customs established by the Orthodox Church. In this manner, they followed the example of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America, who sought the possibility of freely confessing their faith.
    From the very beginning of the current global outbreak of the coronavirus the clergy and faithful of our Diocese, desiring to preserve the health of the population and stop the spread of the coronavirus, and respecting those in power, rigorously strove to adhere to all the standard norms and restrictions introduced by local health authorities. Even though they were deprived of the reverent Divine Services of Great Lent and the joyous celebration of the Triumph of the Holy Resurrection, our parishioners were sympathetic to our directives, attending our churches “virtually.” However, we now observe a contradiction in that mass protests take place everywhere, at which absolutely all precautions are violated with impunity. Yet, liturgical singing performed during the Divine Services and while observing all of the rules, is forbidden. This is open discrimination, hypocrisy and the infringement of our religious rights, prompting us to recall the era of godless persecutions in the USSR.
    Nonetheless, we will continue to pray with gratitude “for this land, its authorities and armed forces,” and “for this city, every city and country and all who in faith dwell therein.” Yet, at the same time, we will defend the rights of our clergy and our parishioners who possess full citizenship in the United States of America.
    +KYRILLArchbishop of San Francisco and Western AmericaSecretary of the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Church Abroad
    July 2020


    This finally seems to amount to some kind of response to the “authorities” in this case Gov. of California .. Caesar Newsom ..

  24. LonelyDn says

    In Washington, the government bans Holy Communion as prescribed through Holy Tradition. Yet, most parishes commune according to the Faith. Nobody is shutting us down, and, our bishops protect us. Why not treat the ban on singing similarly, ie. ignore it and keep our eyes on Christ? 

  25. The fact that some leaders in Ontario (and certainly in many other places too) see no problem having “church without communion” shows just how far from Christianity so many in the West live, even if they see themselves as Christian or as culturally coming from a Christian heritage.
    The eucharist and its partaking of by the faithful is the entire purpose of the Divine Liturgy.  That one can have “church” without holy communion is completely nonsensical from an Orthodox Christian perspective.
    The fact that “church without holy communion” makes sense to so many shows how completely bathed in a protestant worldview so many of us in the West live, all of the time.  Most Protestant services boil down to two parts:  a “lecture” (the sermon, typically the central piece in Protestant worship) and a “concert” (the hymns, whether well sung/high-church or not). 
    Partaking of the Body and Blood of Our Lord is totally peripheral in most Protestant worship, which is why those who come out of a Protestant cultural context see absolutely no problem in having their “lecture and concert” without communion.
    Christ says in John 6:53, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.”  We believe that Christ really means what He says here.  Most protestants don’t believe that Christ means what He says here and do intense intellectual jiu-jitsu to rationalize away much of the theological Gospel.
    And I’m sorry, but if it is purported Orthodox Christians who are pushing for us to have “church without holy communion,” then these people need to be shown the door by leaders who have cojones and instructed not to come back until they actually believe the Orthodox Christian faith that they claim to hold.

    What we desperately need is for our Orthodox leaders — whether priests, bishops, or lay people — to be vocal to the Ontario government (or to any other governments, for that matter) and clearly say that “Having Divine Liturgical (Eucharist) services without holy communion makes absolutely no sense from our perspective and from Orthodox Christian ecclesiology and tradition.  We are different from protestant Christianity, and we are not ashamed to be different.  In fact, we’ve known for hundreds of years that the protestant perspective on and approach to Church and worship has been entirely wrong, but we are often too afraid or too falsely-polite to say so.”
    Now is not the time for us to be afraid to speak up for the Truth or to be falsely polite.  Dancing around and not being clear about the Truth is no virtue during these times.
    I’m fearful that we Orthodox have spent so many decades “just trying to fit in” in the West that we no longer know how to or are no longer able to speak up for the Truth when we must.

  26. May God grant many years to His Eminence Kyrill, Archbishop of San Francisco and Western America, for having “no fear” (as Christ instructs us) to vocally stand up to the belligerence of the atheists who run the state of California:
    MANY YEARS to ABP KYRILL!!  I have always felt that the experience of the Russian Orthodox Church and its terrible suffering during Bolshevik/Soviet times would make it the central voice leading our protest against the Christian persecution that we witness during these times.
    We are seeing ROCOR take its appropriate leadership role among the English-speaking Orthodox Christians in the West, as it should take.  May God keep and preserve the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church in America/ROCOR! 
    N.B.:  The Lieutenant Governor of California (Newsom’s right hand “woman”) is, per her bio on Wikipedia, a “Greek Orthodox Christian.”  It’s a very fair question to ask her if she checks her faith at the door when she crafts and directs policy for the most populous state in the country?  I’d certainly think that the leftists who hold the cultural & political power in California would drive her out of office unless she says “yes, of course my faith does not influence my governing….”  Insanity. 
    My only disagreement with Abp Kyrill is that I would never call Gavin Newsom or his Lieutenant Governor “honourable.” But the wonderful Archbishop is a much more kind man than I.

    • Family Man says

      “We are seeing ROCOR take its appropriate leadership role among the English-speaking Orthodox Christians in the West”

      I am not trying to change the subject or start any “us vs. them”, but I do believe the above quote is both accurate and explains why many ROCOR parishes are seeing their numbers grow while nearby OCA/GOA/Antiochian parishes are not filling even their limited self-imposed capacity.

    • I’d say I’m a tad little bit surprised here. As far as the overall response of the Cathedral at 26th Av. in the Richmond “The Joy of All Who Sorrow” to the pandemic and government mandates I don’t have much knowledge know essentially everything has pretty much been relegated to on-line thus far. However here with the focus on “liturgical singing” and the defense thereof I’ll give Arbp. Kyrill some credit for cracking some eggshells, think there were quite a few commas there in spelling everything out but the bases were pretty well covered. Some nice expressions of dissent with “infringement” and “hypocrisy” and “discrimination” and reference to “godless persecutions” then “defend rights” and “full citizenship” pretty good.

  27. Michael Bauman says

    Especially for those who are deeply angry at our bishops and clergy and the state I want to ask some questions (I could write a lengthy essay but it would be my answers to the following questions which I have been asking myself in one form or another long before I became Orthodox {about 18 years prior}. the answers to which have changed little over the years only in terms of emphasis and dedication to the reality). 

    What are “rights”?  
    Who grants them?
    Who protects them?
    What happens to us when we Protest for our Rights?  
    Is such a thing as “separation of Church and State” actually possible for we Orthodox Christians?    Think of this in light of Mt 6:24.
    If possible, how can it be achieved without compromising the prerogatives and nature (real and perceived) of one or the other or both?
    If possible, is it really a desirable outcome?  
    Hint:  If we insist on the “right” of separation of Church and State” and that the state should allow us those rights, does that not mean the State is actually dominant over the Church?   If we acknowledge the “right” of the state to control access to the sacraments and services even for matters of public safety does it not mean the same thing?  
    Why should we be angry with or at the state for exercising its “rights”.  It reminds me of the old proverb about the scorpion and the frog.  It is the nature of the state to use force to exercise control of their interests.  Always has been, always will be.   At best, utilitarianism rules: “The greatest good for the greatest number”
    What is the nature of the Church and her people.  Is it not Liberty in Christ?  Living in remembrance of death and the Resurrection through worship, prayer, fasting and alms giving?  
    Many, many more possibilities. 

    • Michael,
      I have been thinking a lot about rights as we understand them in America. John Locke wrote about rights as a response to the king’s recent absolutism in stating that he had rights and privileges. Much like the protestant response to the absolutism of the Pope, John Locke sought to state that rights were naturally given to everyone. In doing this we have not solved the problem of absolutism but have rather made everyone king.
      We have forgotten that king  not only has his power from God but has responsibility. The Christian king serves the people. We have forgotten this humility. I believe it is better to speak of responsibilities instead of rights. Rights have too much ego. 

      • Michael Bauman says

        David, yes. Good point. Locke was not Christian so he looked down rather than up.  The question then becomes to whom are we responsible.  

        • If we are not responsible to God, we are responsible to no-one;
          and all is permissible – if we can get away with it.
          In such a society, as Thomas Hobbes observed:
          “…there is no place for industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving, and removing, such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”

  28. The Greek cathedral in Los Angeles, Saint Sophia, used chanting and singing in their July 5th liturgy, which you can hear on Youtube. (SOURCE: The July 1 “Guidance” was issued only several days earlier.
    It might not be so hard to enforce this “guidance” on Protestant churches where reading is mixed with occasional piano hymns, but in Orthodoxy, the liturgy is generally chanted. Even in Islamic prayers, the style is some kind of chanting or singing. It looks pretty hard to enforce this, as it would likely incur major opposition.
    Here is a legal review suggesting that the California “Guidance” is limited in how it applies to churches’ members, despite it being intended for churches:
    “On July 1, 2020, the California division of Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA)2 released a 14-page document entitled COVID-19 Industry Guidance: Places of Worship and Providers of Religious Services and Cultural Ceremonies (OSHA Guidance)…
    OSHA’s jurisdiction is limited to the workplace. Stated otherwise, OSHA’s jurisdictional reach extends to employers and employees within the venue that work is performed.8 Despite the language set forth in the OSHA Guidance, OSHA has no legal authority over volunteers 9 or congregants who attend services. With regards to volunteers, there are few jurisdictional exceptions, none of which are applicable here. In view of that, the OSHA Guidance extends to singers or chanters who are paid employees or other persons receiving financial compensation from the religious institution. For example, such would include a paid song leader, music director who sings, and a cantor. 
    Is the OSHA Guidance an Order? 
    The OSHA Guidance does not self-identify as an order. It does not cite to legal authority as a basis for its issuance nor how volunteers and non-employee members of the public come within OSHA’s reach. Further, if one compares executive orders from the Governor or public health officials, the OSHA Guidance does not provide for penalties or other mechanisms of enforcement. Of interest, a violation of an OSHA regulation carries extensive fines.11 Here, as a matter of law, the OSHA Guidance is not a regulation.12 Further, the OSHA Guidance relies primarily on the use of permissive, rather than mandatory, language such as recommended, guidance, and consideration. Terms such as mandate (and its cognates) and order appear in reference to directives from other government officials or agencies. Finally, unlike this letter, the OSHA Guidance is an unsigned document. All of the above stand as indicators of whether or not a government document qualifies as an order. The OSHA Guidance is just that – guidance. 
    ” SOURCE: (

  29. We’ve gotten quite a bit of correspondence from Canadian Greeks that help fill in the gaps:
    We are mounting an email writing campaign. If you could please visit this link and send some emails, it would greatly help out.