The Way, the Truth & the Light: A False Dichotomy?

How does one explain two entirely different approaches to dealing with the coronavirus?  Do we rely on God or use best practices?    

ROCOR (Bishop Irenei of London and Western Europe):

In the present moment, therefore, I urge you to be not afraid (Isaiah 43.1) nor let the concerns of the moment shake you from the firm foundation that is unhindered faith in the living God, Who heals the sick and restores the broken-hearted. The present situation may be a cause of great upset in the world around us, but in the Church, and in our Christian lives, we continue unhindered and undeterred in all that God has delivered into our hands for the salvation of our souls.

Ecumenical Patriarchate:

Clergy and Laity alike should employ best practices like thorough and meticulous hand-washing and frequent cleaning of the liturgical space and objects (e.g., hand cross, icons, etc.). Those belonging to vulnerable groups (the at-risk elderly, those with suppressed auto-immune systems, and those who suffer from chronic illnesses) should protect themselves by refraining from attending church services during the crisis. Also, everyone traveling internationally, please refrain from coming to church services for a period of fourteen days (the timeframe of incubation). 

In addition, no one should be criticized for making the choice to refrain for a time from their participation in the traditional liturgical practices of our Holy Church. These measures do not change the traditions of the Church but are rather temporary precautions during this time of crisis. 


As a health professional, and as one who deals with the public almost every day, I can say without hesitation that we are approaching levels of hysteria that I have not seen since, oh I don’t know, ever. Folks, in the United States alone, 56,000 people die every year from the flu. We lost 58,000 servicemen in Vietnam, a war that lasted over seven years (our involvement at least) and we viewed this as nothing short of a national trauma, but we don’t think twice about those who succumb to the flu.  All things are not equal.  

To his credit, President Trump has been on this from almost day one. In fact, he closed down all travel between China and the US and he was criticized for it.  When Obama was president, he waited six months before declaring a national emergency with the swine flu (SIV). In the interim, over 1,000 Americans died. He was not castigated.  Yet it was only days into the current pandemic before people started calling the coronavirus the “Trump flu”.  Doesn’t that seem a bit contrived?

Putting this into perspective, COVID-19 (coronavirus, 2019 strains) are in fact less virulent than SARS, Swine Flu and MERS –far less so in fact. It has a fatality rate around 2%, but that’s almost certainly an overestimate, since mild cases are not being counted.  But even 2% is less than SARS’ at 10% and nowhere near the 37% of MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus).  Will people die? Yes, the same people who would die from the regular flu if it went into pneumonia because they are elderly or already immunocompromised.  The normal flu vaccine has an efficacy rate of anywhere between 10 and 60 percent so even those who get their annual flu shot, are often equally at risk in terms of contracting the virus.

As a layman, I’m more than a little disappointed in the directive put out by the Ecumenical Patriarchate because it shows a lack of faith and more than a little ignorance.  Scientists are now thinking the 2019-nCoV will join the four coronaviruses already circulating in the population.  For the most part, they cause common-cold-type symptoms.   If 2019-nCoV becomes entrenched it will join a suite of other diseases that threaten us every day.  It’s called the human existence.  There is a broader point, however, so let me just come out and say it: are the same jurisdictions that have succumbed to the hysteria also willing to quarantine others from the Chalice? I’m talking about people who because of their lifestyle are already immunocompromised?  I think we all know the answer. 

At the end of the day, I prefer the more robust directive put out by ROCOR.   Isn’t it better to be bold when we’re talking about the LORD of hosts? We are Christians after all. Our Founder conquered death.   Viruses are just another day in the life. 

To God be the glory.


  1. George,
    I couldn’t agree with you more. I am also a health professional in Seattle. The difference between the mass media hysteria and their flat out lies and the day to day reality could not be more stark. Seattle – a ghost town? Give me a break. I take solace in the fact that such a disparity highlights the Clown World to my mostly liberal coworkers as they cant help but snicker at the lies on CNN or Drudge and the day to day mostly unchanged reality in front of them. The controlled (on all sides) media can’t help themselves. How thrilled they must be along with the Gates foundation to have such a wonderful crisis to create and exploit. Makes one suspicious.
    Our Antiochian priest very clearly yet tactfully reaffirmed the ROCOR stance. The body and blood of our Lord could never transmit sickness of any sort. 
    The practical potential physical danger to all of us is elevated cortisol from fear. Based on what I’ve seen at work in the past week – you have greater reason to pray for protection from heart disease, high blood pressure and inebriated wrong way drivers. Always make the sigh of the cross before embarking on any journey or endeavor. 
    I hearken to the words of Fr John Krestiankin from Everyday Saints when he was recalling his time in prison in Russia; Don’t fear, don’t believe, don’t beg.
    No one of course said it better than Christ – Be not afraid.

    • BE  NOT  AFRAID ⭐️
      Thanks Dr. Mike – media is powerful instilling fear – flu kills more yearly.
      Archbishop Elpidoforos just cancelled music concert in NY due to virus – 

    • Fr. Deacon John says

      I consume the chalice or chalices every week.  Have done so for years.  If you truly believe that what is in that chalice is exactly what is in that chalice, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, you don’t even think about it.  I have never gotten sick nor will I ever get sick from consuming the chalices because I truly believe and have faith that what is in there, is what is in there.

  2. GSV Death and Gravity says

    In the realm of predictions I would really, really, really like to be wrong, I fear this essay is going to seem quaintly naive just a couple weeks from now.
    Comparing prospective mortality rates of COVID-19 against SARS or MERS is not really helpful because the nature of the latter two meant they were successfully interdicted and prevented from wider outbreaks.
    COVID-19, in contrast is likely in community transmission in the majority of US states at this point. And it seems likely to be as transmissible as a seasonal influenza.
    Except, there is no even partially effective vaccine, even a conservative mortality rate puts it at perhaps an order of magitude higher than the average flu, and it will have significantly higher percentage of cases requiring hospitalization to avoid death than the average flu.
    One big question right now is: what is the capacity of the US health system to handle COVID-19 cases. Because once a region is capacity saturated not only do direct COVID-19 fatalties increase, but indirect fatalities from things which require resources which simply aren’t available.
    What happens when you run out of ICU beds? Of normal hospital beds?
    It should be incredibly concerning to Americans that we are likely only a couple days behind, if not a couple days ahead of Italy except due to mismanagement and bungling we don’t even know where we stand at this point.

    • Really good points especially recognizing the impact beyond just total deaths but the impact on the health system as a whole. I also hope you’re wrong but I also feel China will be recognized for its heroism in retrospect for managing to only have a few thousand fatalities. Maybe setting the precedent for large-scale quarantines will save lives as well. I’m not sure Italy would act as it did recently without China’s example. 

      • i quite agree about panic. Not here in Bulgaria, but certainly in Terms of Panic buying in Uk as my relatives currently there have said and sent me in photos.  
        And i take George the point that flu vacine is not 100%  and we can die of many things.  
        And i struggle with the preventative measures re Church.  Can relics be a cause of illness, icons etc.?  
        But the fact is and this at this moment in time is the fact  that unlike flu etc we do not have any protection against it. Now in young people  it seems, ALTHOUGH NOT ENTIRELY AMONGST FRONT LINE STAFF, that at worst it just gives a heavy cold type scenario.  But amongst elderly and health compromised elderly,  it will be fatal or as near as.  Now i am no longer 20 and sadly have some cardiac problems that put me at great risk.  So i am taking precautions.  As our local church gets very full in a small space I have avoided.  And in circulating out and about without need. And we have a reserve of food etc in house and medication.   But these are sensible things anyway. 
        Also. HAND WASHING IS something thst needs to be obeyed ALL THE TIME.  And I am a health care professional in career in   senior acute nursing and  clinical psychology. 
        I find myself somewhere alarmed by George’ s dismissive tone. And i find the good bishop lacking in not facing medical facts. We live in this fallen world. 
        On the other hand the  elpidophoros stuff while sensible and good health advice seems to lack the sense of faith found in the ROCOR message.  
        What to do?  How to regard it re Faith? I do not know  but on practical level am doing what i do.   We are due a pandemic at some stage and  we face an antibiotic crisis,  not helped by USA mass animals meat production, amongst many  other things. 
        I just hear  alarm bells ringing when matters of health becomes politics. MATTERS OF HEALTH ARE TO DO WITH SCIENCE.  It is science, the use of God given reason that have brought us from the plague riven 19c. That this understanding should be undermined alarms me as a believer.  PERHAPS I HAVE NO PLACE IN THIS BLOG? Just saying. 

        • Ps I have flu and pneumonia vacination.  I deplore the denial of science thst puts at risk the advances of last 100 yrs. And before anybody says anything,  i am aware of the limitations of how modern medicine has gone and  as a health service professional share many of the criticisms, but not of the scientific method. I CLEARLY OPPOSE OBSCURANTISM 

    • Antiochene Son says

      Well said. People are too focused on the death rate (which is also higher than the regular flu, at between 1 and 4 percent). The issue is not so much the number of deaths, but the ~5% of cases that require extreme intervention and the ~15% of cases that require medical attention or hospitalization.
      When the healthcare system is saturated with COVID-19 patients and the 300,000 beds which are open at any one time are full, what happens to car accident victims? Appendix ruptures? Cancer treatments? All the other “normal” injuries and illnesses that require hospitalization?

      What happens to nurses and doctors when we only have enough N95 masks stockpiled for TWO per healthcare professional?
      At the current rate, cases are doubling in the US every 4 to 6 days. (With an average incubation period of 5 days, that means every infected person is infecting two other people.) It doesn’t matter that it’s “only 500 cases”—oh, sorry, its 700 now. China’s 80,000 cases were only 500 at one point. There’s some panic buying happening, but most people are pooh-poohing simple measures like hand-washing, something they should be doing anyway. 
      I think most people aren’t going to care until it’s their own grandparent or parent fighting to have access to the last available ventilator in their region. The normalcy bias is too strong, and it shows what a non-serious society we live in.

      • Antiochan son.  I have had photos and mails from uk showing empty cosco stories and people fighting over stuff.  Here in Bulgaria all normal and stores fully stocked . But the bulgars are a clean people anyway who do not drop litter, remove shoes entering a home and use over shoes in any clinical setting. 
        George is being a little blasse.  The flu vacine may not be 100%  but to claim almost makes no difference in flu prevention is not true. And many who die, were without it. And if u go down with flu having had vacine,  the illness is alot milder  
        But with this virus there is no protection so people as me are wide open to fatal illness as also front line stuff of any age who are over exposed.  IT IS A EMERGENCY SITUATION .   I did not say panic. 
        How should a Christian respond?  With faith and knowledge.  
        I would still take Communion trusting in the fear of God, but as to the rest yes the precautions Elpidophoros recommend are sensible.  Perhaps if well had greater faith we would see a miracle of God that no one via Church would fall ill.  Or die. But bombs fall on churches,  Earthquakes kill congregations (The Great  Lisbon  quake in 18th century being on a Sunday a case in point)  so we have to take sensible precautions.   In 18c Moscow during plague outbreak, the Metropolitan of Moscow, forbad the kissing of Icons etc 
        We live in this fallen world. 

  3. Tim R. Mortiss says

    I think the GOA approach makes sense. 
    As I said in a recent thread, we all communed yesterday, including our physicians, among whom is an infectious disease specialist. She spoke at announcements and endorsed the basic procedures set out by the GOA. 
    I see no downside to this, and no need to make it political; meaningless comparisons with Obama, etc.
    We are near ‘ground zero’ here in Tacoma, and I see no signs of panic, but plenty of signs of caution.
    In short, I myself see no need of ‘either/or’, and no need to castigate the ‘Greeks’ on this particular issue.

    • TheFutureOfTheChurch says

      I agree. I have no problem with the recommendations of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on this topic.
      God has allowed man to acquire scientific knowledge and there is no reason not to follow medical recommendations to prevent the spread of infectious disease. To me, following the procedures does not demonstrate a lack of faith. If not, does having health insurance, life insurance, etc. also indicate a lack of faith in God? Of course, we believe God is omnipotent and can protect us from anything if he chooses but we should also do what is practical to protect ourselves and others in situations like this.

    • Antiochene Son says

      Indeed. We can be hygienic and unafraid at the same time.
      If someone who is obviously sick coughs all over an icon, I don’t think it’s a lack of faith to say it should be cleaned off before someone else kisses it. And even if it is a lack of faith, what did St. Paul say?
      One believes he may eat anything, while the weak man eats only vegetables. Let not him who eats despise him who abstains, and let not him who abstains pass judgment on him who eats; for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for God is able to make him stand.

    • Tim. See my entry just written. As a believer I am depressed by the OBSCURANTISM I detect. I do not know if i belonging on this blogg.  As u say why is health becoming a matter of politics??  And church politics.  I will take Communion, unless I am unwell when will inform the  priest, but venerating icons and kissing priest’s hand  etc, while present situation pertains,  NO!  And we should have faith yes.  BUT WE LIVE IN FALLEN WORLD AS IT IS, and must act accordingly. Leaving  aside the current crisis,  even to avoid common cold, hand hygene etc is something to be taught and encouraged.  
      Is the good ROCOR bishop saying  that in his churches nothing should change during this crisis with the yes, dealthy implications for some?. Especially given fact that most of his church goes will be in the at risk group?
      Yes there is no need for panic,  and as christians we should have faith in God but are we being  told to disregard science?   The great scientists and surgeons of the Church did not. God gave us our intellect to struggle with life as it is.  
      There is a saying, ” Pray and keep yr powder dry and pass the ammunition.! ”
      I am deeply saddened by the way i see here  and elsewhere, science and health have become political weapons and the medical advances of last century denied. 
      I worked all my life in careing for people.  I have seen what bad hygene does.  I DO NOT KNOW IF THERE IS A PLACE IN A  CHURCH FOR ME THAT WISHES TO BE OBSCURANTIST. And u will be aware of my views on matters from my many entries. I wish you all well and safe but I cannot feel part of it anymore. 

      • I’m with you, Nikos. I am already limiting activities and won’t be going to church, as the virus is now spreading in my area. I have an elderly mom and don’t want to be the cause of her possible exposure to this. Nothing to do with lack of faith, rather I think it would be the height of imprudence and lack of charity to expose yourself, and thus possibly others, to this disease. Social distancing is the best way to stop the spread, just look at Hong Kong, Singapore and South Korea who have flattened the spread in a short time just by staying home. I implore all of us to follow their good example, it can save lives.

  4. Jacob George Lee says


  5. I can’t believe that the OCA mimicked the tragic directives of the Greeks! Lord have mercy!

    • Gail Sheppard says

      They’re (some on the Synod) are aligning themselves more and more with the Greeks.

    • Antiochene Son says

      The Eucharist is incorruptible, but the air and doorknobs inside our churches aren’t. There is literally nothing wrong with telling people to wash their hands.

  6. The best practices put in place by the GOA are very sensible, however, I am afraid that the “temporary precautions during this time of crisis” will become the new normal and a permanent change of custom and habit.

    • George Michalopulos says


      In the meantime, there is an elephant in the room that nobody is addressing here. The GOA hierarchy isn’t addressing it as well.

      Thoughts anyone? Anyone?

      • Sage-girl says

        George Michaelopulos, thanks for posting this thread… seems more + more events + parades are cancelling + universities are going lockdown … soon Manhattan I hear will be in lockdown…
        but please explain elephant ? in the room? 

  7. The sky is falling!
    I think not.
    Anything that increases the general level of anxiety works against the incumbent.  Lowering it works for him.  That is why the economy is such a huge factor.
    Forget not that thîs is an election year.  And if you don’t think the vermin who brought us global warming would stoop to this, then you haven’t been paying attention.
    But for the election we would never know about something like this as few as it affects.

  8. Michael Bauman says

    Run, Run, Run for the hills, all is lost!!!!!

    Or, take sensible precautions: wash, wash, wash your hands. Get good sleep. Don’t go on a cruse or to China.

    Be not afraid!

    • Tim R. Mortiss says

      This is the universal advice, and news of panic hereabouts is greatly exaggerated. Indeed, the only signs here at ground zero are that hand sanitizer is sold out everywhere (I use alcohol in a little bottle), and Costco is rationing toilet paper.
      That’s it. As for the stock market, well….

  9. Yes, let’s have faith. Let’s have faith about every other economic, religious, political issue the Orthosphere gets worked up about too. But let’s not be in denial about the seriousness of a pandemic.
    There are many health officials at the centre of research into epidemiology and virology with no interest in selling newspapers, only in public health who have been sounding the alarms for weeks now. What’s more likely, that China was under-reporting figures, or over-reporting? And if cases were under-reported, doesn’t that mean the virus is more virulent and infectious than currently thought? 
    There’s plenty of older people and people with pre-existing health conditions I love and will greatly miss. Somehow I think anyone over the age of 60 reading this blog are not comforted that the rest of the world would shrug when they die because they were “elderly” and had it coming to them.
    Even if this is destined to be endemic, the big issue is that we don’t have a vaccine and we have the opportunity to greatly lessen the impact until we get one. And that there are actions so well within our reach to limit the spread at every moment. I see myself and others much worse affected by those in denial than by those taking precautions.

    • James my point.  AS someone with cardiomyopathy and aortic regurgitation and dilated aorta I stand at great risk. I got that in my uk psychiatric liaison post in Uk hospital from a streptococcal throat in 2008.   We may carry the Saint ‘ s relics round the street as St Spyridon in Corfu,  to protection against plague, but are we going to ignore all health advice and measures?  

    • “Will people die? Yes, the same people who would die from the regular flu if it went into pneumonia because they are elderly or already immunocompromised. ”

      You object to me (James) calling this “shrugging.” Well, ignore the label and let me restate my point, the data shows mortality jumps sharply for covid-19 once you hit 50, and the statement quoted above seems, to me, to minimize that. You believe I have accused you of not caring, which is untrue.

      The rest of your response is directed at some other ideas which I did not write. I am only against minimizing the seriousness of the present situation, in which my original response detailed 3 such examples I saw in the original post.

      • Gail Sheppard says

        Sorry, James. There is something weird going on with the blog and it’s been happening all morning. I’m just deleting my comment.

  10. It came out yesterday that Hong Kong, after being devastated by SARS a few  years ago, took rapid action when the coronavirus hit. They immediately started social distancing, self quarantining, working from home, washing hands and wearing masks when in public. They have been so successful that not only has the coronavirus transmission been virtually stopped, even the normal flu season is ending a month early. I don’t think it shows any lack of faith in God to take these precautions, including staying away from large gatherings like church if the virus is in your area. It’s just common sense.
    And charity. Elderly people and nursing homes are most at risk from this disease. I have an elderly mother with Alzheimer’s who lives in a memory care unit. I don’t want to do anything that might expose me, thus possibly expose her, the other residents and the staff. To me that is the opposite of charity, and I can’t imagine God would be offended by our being cautious. Rather I wish people would be far more careful, like Hong Kong has been, we could stop this in its tracks.
    It has nothing to do with what any bishop says, it’s because I love my mom, the people she lives with and the people who take care of her. I want them to be safe!

    • Theo please see my entry.  I as you feel so saddened by the OBSCURANTISM shown And whst has health to do with politics, trump etc.  Obama.  I DESPAIR I REALKY DO. God bless. 

      • I know, Nikos.  I honestly can’t believe the articles I’m seeing in both the Orthodox and Catholic press. It borders on superstition and magical thinking – and there WERE periods in history when churches closed during major epidemics to protect the faithful. This stuff about staying open and going no matter what is nonsense. I am married to a healthcare worker, and that is exactly how he feels, too. Better to stay home than risk spreading this thing even more. And don’t despair, there is a God and He will see us through, we just need to stay true to Him. And He is NOT confined to the walls of a church, though some may act like He is.

  11. In the discussion about “temporary precautions during time of crisis”, I think it’s important to separate the reception of the Holy Eucharists from other practices in the Church. To a believing Orthodox Christian, there can be no question that the Eucharist is the Body and Blood of Christ and is essential on our path to the salvation of our soul. There can be no restrictions. But, I have no problem in the evaluating other practices in our churches. For example, in many, if not all ROCOR churches, the after communion wine is taken from a common cup. I would suggest putting the wine in individual paper cups. After all, that wine is not consecrated. My mind is open to precautionary measures made by those of strong faith who understand the miracle that is performed in our churches every Sunday when God becomes available to us to strengthen us and lead us to eternal life.

  12. Johann Sebastian says

    For once, the EP and GOA did something right.
    We are to put our trust and faith in God, but He also granted us with the means to devise ways to practice prevention and precaution. Only a fool seeks danger, and in doing so, they also test God.

  13. Not to change the subject, (and George may want to start a separate subject about this), but I just heard that the EP just created a new Vicariate in America which will answer directly to AB Elpi. It is called the Orthodox Christian Communities of Slavic Tradition. The Vicar of this new Vicariate is none other than the man who was laicized last month by ROCOR, Alexander Belya. 

    • Alitheia 1875 says

      True. (Archimandrite) Alexander Belya is the Vicar. The vicarate consists of St. Matrona of Moscow Cathedral ofMiami, St. Nicholas the Wonderworker Monasteryof North Fort Meyers and the St John the Forerunner and Baptist Cathedral of Brooklyn.

  14. If we truly believe that COVID-19 or any disease for that matter (HIV, influenza, you name it) can be transmitted through the chalice, or that attending worship services at church can be “dangerous” or “hazardous to one’s health” — well, that sort of has earth-shattering implications to the foundations of our faith, does it not?
    I recall what my pastor did years ago when we had a miscarriage on Great & Holy Thursday evening. We did not at all feel like attending Holy Friday or Pascha in the immediate days following, being in overwhelming pain and devastated.  My priest, though compassionate, clearly said that he could not encourage or support us in staying away from the divine services, even during that terrible time. 

    It’s not what I wanted to hear, but my priest understood the healing power of Christ and the Church way more than I did. Even then at the time, I respected him even more for his steadfastness and unwavering faith. Thank you, Father. 

    Thank God for Bishop Irenei of London!  I pray to meet him someday. 

  15. Here is a better way to understand the differences between the Istanbulites and ROCOR – the former went so far as to accept a “priest” associated with human trafficking while the latter purged themselves of such persons. Much like many perverse characters in Ukraine were accepted by Istanbul.
    It is madness and has nothing to do with Christianity.

    • Archpriest Alexander F.C. Webster says

      The current Patriarch of Constantinople and his archbishop in the USA have now demonstrated an uncanonical and unholy fondness for defrocked or suspended Russian Orthodox priests and deacons here in the USA as well as in Ukraine.

      I wonder if Mr. Lipper and other persistent apologists for the “primus sine paribus” in Istanbul will attempt to justify that ecclesial aggression in our own homeland in the global conflict between Moscow and Constantinople or simply continue to insist that what happens in Ukraine and the “old world” has nothing to do with us Orthodox in the Western Hemisphere.

      • Why would anyone even receive individuals that are under investigation for human trafficking, and let them be ‘clergy’?!

    • Sage-Girl says

      The question remains WHY would Patriarch Bartholomew do such a bizarre thing?
      One of those suspended + defrocked priests forged signature of the very holy Metropolitan Hilarion Kapral! How did they get away with all this? 

      • Please remember ROCOR embraced Holy Transfiguration Monastery in Boston for several years. Things can change and the GOA may realize it made a mistake.

      • Because he’s going to proclaim them the real church and delegitimize the rest of us, like in the Ukraine?

  16. The Holy God knows when it will be your time to go. If it is not your time, you not going. Trust in God, if it is your time without a doubt, your going.

  17. Will Harrington says

    The Title of this post is correct to ask if this is a false dichotomy We are not Christian scientists nor atheists. Take care of yourself and have faith. If your civil authorities say stay home, then stay home. If not, go to Church. It aint hard.

  18. Greatly Saddened says

    Below please find an article from today on the Orthodox Times website.
    Home > Orthodoxy > Ecumenical Patriarchate
    Ecumenical Patriarchate for Coronavirus: Prudence, patience and avoidance of panic
    Mar 11, 2020 | 17:09

  19. Dear Nikos:

    A compendium of links posted elsewhere: I really appreciate the Metropolitan of Corfu’s first up. He continues to be a supporter and vocal defender of Metropolitan Onouphry in the Ukraine and to speak his mind to Patriarch Bartholomew about it. So carries weight with me, as does anything Met. Athanasios of Limassol might say. And speaks to the Christ-like love for the vulnerable and oppressed which you advocate for us all to show, Nikos.

    Metropolitan of Corfu: It is a sin when one who is sick puts the others at risk
    Mar 11, 2020

    Metropolitan Nektarios of Corfu and Diapontia Islands calls on the Orthodox faithful, who even have the slightest symptom, to avoid participating in the liturgies for as long as it is needed in order to recover.

    In an announcement, the Metropolitan provides advice to all vulnerable groups and to those who are ill, saying that “those who cannot go to the church at this time can pray at their home.”

    “For our Church the Holy Communion is the Body and Blood of Christ. No disease is transmitted through Holy Communion. But this does not mean that those who are physically ill must go to the church in order to receive the Holy Communion. The canons of the Church provide for those who are ill can receive the Holy Communion by inviting the priest at home or at the hospital. This is a long-established tradition. However, it is a sin to know that one is ill and to insist on putting his fellow human being at risk, not because of the Holy Communion, but because of their attending the liturgy at the temple. The canons provide for sanctions for those who do not respect their fellow human beings on the pretext of devoutness.

    In the same announcement, the Metropolitan informs the faithful that all scheduled church and parish activities, catechetical congregations, events, speeches, which require public gatherings, will be suspended until March 25.

    Divine Liturgies on Sundays and on March 25, the Feast of the Annunciation, the Rejoicings (Chairetismoi) liturgies on Fridays and the Vespers on Sundays will be held at the Saint Spyridon Church.

    Source: ANA-MPA
    Metropolitan of Alexandroupolis: The Holy Communion requires faith, it is not magical
    Mar 11, 2020

    After the controversy over the issue of mass gatherings at the churches amid coronavirus fears, the Metropolitan of Alexandroupolis, in his statements on, says, “Anyone who is sick should not come to the church. We cannot despise medication. This is just ridiculous.”

    He emphasizes, “The Holy Bible praises the doctors and the meds.. The believer who does not feel well can go to the church in the afternoon when the Church is not very crowded and one can light a candle and pray.”

    Metropolitan Anthimos of Alexandroupolis clarifies, “We are not going to close the temples. Whosoever can not go to the church, one should avoid doing so. The Metropolitan of Alexandroupolis wonders, “Does one think that one will not catch the virus for merely being faithful? Do the priests not get sick?”.

    Regarding the Holy Communion, the Metropolitan says this is another matter. He adds, “The Holy Communion requires faith. There is no magical Holy Communion. Depending on the faith we have, it will cause no harm. But who can measure faith? If you have great faith, you can walk on the waves from Alexandroupolis to Samothrace. But if you haven’t? We must receive the Holy Communion with faith, not as an act of showing off. The sanctification goes to the soul. And if God wants to test us?”.

    As Anthimos of Alexandroupolis says, faith is rational and means no lack of seriousness, adding, “I have closed two institutions of the Metropolis in order to protect the elders who live there.”
    Ecumenical Patriarchate for Coronavirus: Prudence, patience and avoidance of panic
    Mar 11, 2020

    The Holy and Sacred Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, chaired by Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, met today on the issue of coronavirus.

    As they point out, the Holy and Sacred Synod urges all believers to comply with both WHO health guidelines and the relevant guidelines of each state.

    On the subject of the Holy Communion, “The Mother Church of Constantinople knows empirically from its two-thousand-year existence that the Holy Communion is” the antidote to mortality “and remains firm in its Orthodox teaching concerning the Holy Eucharist”.

    Read the communique of the Ecumenical Patriarchate

    The Holy and Great Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, convened under the presidency of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and among other issues, thoroughly deliberated upon the events of the COVID-19 (Corona) virus and with a feeling of pastoral responsibility, points out the following:

    1) Despite the seriousness of the situation, prudence, patience, and the avoidance of panic are advised.

    2) The Church has and continues to respect medical science. Thus, the Church recommends that all the faithful adhere to the official directives of both the World Health Organization and the pertinent pronouncements and legal regulations issued by the civil authorities of their respective countries.

    3) The Ecumenical Patriarchate expresses its gratitude to all those working self-sacrificially within all health, medical, nursing, and research fields in order that this new pandemic be confronted and treated.

    4) The Mother Church of Constantinople knows empirically from its two-thousand-year existence that Holy Communion is “the antidote to mortality” and remains firm in its Orthodox teaching regarding the Holy Eucharist.

    5) It is considered self-evident that faith in God, as transcendence and not as the abolition of human reason, along with prayer strengthen the spiritual battle of every Christian. Therefore, the Mother Church of Constantinople urges its spiritual children throughout the world to intensify their petitions so that, strengthened and illumined by God, this contemporary tribulation may be overcome.

    Metropolitan of Kifissia appeals to the reason of the faithful to counter the spread of the coronavirus
    Mar 11, 2020

    Metropolitan Kyrillos of Kifisia appeals to the reasonof the faithful with a circular and arguments from the Gospel to counter the spread of coronavirus.

    The Metropolitan of Kifissia, Maroussi and Oropos points out that “we cannot expose ourselves to the risk of not taking protection measures for the spread of the virus, in order to test whether God protects us.”

    In addition, he clarifies that “the Holy Communion is a Mystery, Body, and Blood of Christ and gives only health and life”, while also calling on believers who have symptoms of illness or belong to vulnerable groups not to go to temples. In this regard, he emphasizes that “respecting the lives of others and their physical health is a Christian duty, derived from the love of fellow human beings taught by the Lord Himself.”

    Finally, Metropolitan Kyrillos invokes “collective faith”, which he says is needed to overcome this difficulty, and makes use of yet another example of the life of Jesus Christ, and in particular the miracle of healing the paralytic at Capernaum, where Christ referred to the faith not only of the paralytic, but also of the faith of those who carried him.

    “Here is a collective faith that requires cooperation, joint planning, common action. This is what we need today, too, to overcome this difficulty.”


    • ‘4) The Mother Church of Constantinople knows empirically from its two-thousand-year existence that Holy Communion is “the antidote to mortality” and remains firm in its Orthodox teaching regarding the Holy Eucharist.’
      So the Mother Church of Constantinople was founded in the year 20, give or take?

    • Nicole thank you for all thst. God bless. Tomorrow I will attend just before Communion and take Communion and then leave. .

  20. And Abbot Tryphon of ROCOR  is always sane and loving:

    • This is the latest letter from Met Alexios and the Dean of the Cathedral of the Metropolis of Atlanta
      March 14, 2020
      Dear Cathedral Parish Family,
      Following the guidance and recommendations from all the various government agencies, The Holy Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, and in conjunction with the thoughtful recommendations of His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta, please find below the following new additional immediate initiatives that are meant to ensure the health and safety of our community. All of these measures are to support social distancing and containment which are essential to preventing the spread of the COVID-19. We must use our God-given gift of discernment to make sensible thoughtful and wise decisions during this time.
      Until further notice, the following directives are in place:
      – All Liturgical Services WILL take place as scheduled, most especially the Divine Liturgy so that we may offer our prayers as a people before the Holy Altar of the Lord. At the same time, we direct the faithful to STAY AT HOME and watch the services on live stream ( This is out of concern for everyone’s health and welfare.
      – The Annunciation Cathedral Mixed, Men’s and Youth Choirs will not sing during services. Each Chant Stand will have only ONE chanter.
      – Memorial services will still be celebrated as usual, with the Koliva being distributed in the Narthex in pre-filled wax paper bags following the service for the faithful as they leave.
      – The passing of trays will be discontinued. Instead, a place to accept offerings will be provided in the Narthex. Visit our website to make an online offering.
      – Sunday Coffee Fellowship Hour will be suspended and Carlos Hall will remain closed. All faithful are asked to leave and not socialize in the Narthex.
      – Visitations to Hospitals, Elderly and Shut-in will be rescheduled. For all health emergencies please contact the clergy at 404-633-5870.
      – All activities, ministries, programs and social gatherings will be suspended until further notice
      This includes but is not limited to everything listed below:- Youth Education Ministries including: The Annunciation Day School, Annunciation Afternoon Greek School and Sunday Catechetical School.Being committed to our students and their learning, Annunciation Day School will continue to have classes via virtual learning during this time.
      – All Adult Education Ministries including: Wednesday Morning and Wednesday “NITE” Life, Lenten meals and the speaker series.
      – All Senior Ministries including: Golden Group, GOOFS, Thursday Breakfast, Velonaki, Seniors at Play
      – All Youth ministries including: HOPE/JOY, GOYA, YAYP, OCF and Greek Dance
      – Any Luncheons and gatherings
      – Sunday Coffee Fellowship Hour
      – Athletic activities including: Basketball, League Play, Cathedral Gym and Weight/Exercise Room usage
      – Social activities including: Book clubs and Kafenion usage
      – All Hellenic and Fraternal Organizations.
      Parish Council, committee meetings, and ADS Board Meetings will continue to meet as normally scheduled but will be done via on-line tele-conference or internet based conferencing. Please be vigilant in checking email for directions.
      The Cathedral Office will remain open during normal business hours (M-F, 9-5). We strongly suggest NOT COMING in person unless invited or in the case of an emergency. All business may be conducted via email ( or by calling 404-633-5870.
      We must continue to be prayerful and faithful, and trust that the Lord will deliver our world from this disease. Please offer the attached prayer service, individually and collectively, that all those who are suffering are granted healing, and that the Lord will enlighten the medical professionals as they seek to control the spread of COVID-19.
      As we journey through Great and Holy Lent amidst these challenging times, let us walk with faith, strengthened by the Lord’s mighty hand and illumined by His Grace and Peace.
      In Christ’s Service
      Rev. Fr. Paul A. Kaplanis Rev. Fr. Christos P. MarsDean Presbyter

  21. Antiochene Son says

    Now that all travel from Europe is banned, I assume Bart will be staying home?

    Or will he get a special dispensation because Erdogan “”””says”””” there is only 1 case of COVID in the country?

  22. Greatly Saddened says

    Below please find an article from today on the Orthodox Times website.
    Home > Orthodoxy > Ecumenical Patriarchate > Mount Athos
    Concern and additional measures in Mount Athos for the coronavirus
    Mar 12, 2020 | 15:31

  23. Greatly Saddened says

    Below please find an article from last Saturday on the Public Orthodoxy website.
    by Fr. Elias Villis

    • Gail Michalopulos says

      The author, a priest, says: “I refuse to believe that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ would ever tell someone who is faithful in so many ways but struggles with approaching the chalice because of fear of disease, “Stay away because of your lack of faith.” This is not the Christ we worship and adore.”

      OF COURSE, the Lord wouldn’t say, “Stay away”! Under any circumstances. When Peter was afraid to step out of the boat, the Lord did not say, “Stay away.” The Lord did not tell the Samaritan woman to, “Stay away.” The Lord did not tell the Phoenician woman to, “Stay away.” The Lord did not tell anyone to, “Stay away,” ever!

      Nor would He tell people to stay away from the Chalice, His own Body and Blood, in a pandemic!

      There is nothing wrong with being afraid but there is something wrong with those who feed that fear, especially if they’re in the clergy.

      If someone said, “If you believe that you will get sick by partaking of Holy Communion, you are in sin and should not approach,” I didn’t see it. Nor does in come up in Google when I searched for it, except in conjunction with this article.

      If “so many” said it, where is it? Could this be one more example of Fordham trying to distract people from what the Church teaches by making their readers think that “so many” of us who boldly state the Truth, are telling people who are afraid to approach, that they are too sinful to partake? Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised.