Earlier today Orthodox Christianity published a “report” entitled City of Toronto Bans Holy Communion, intending to outrage its readers into imagining that public health policy during the current pandemic singles out the Church for “persecution.” It includes a brief video clip in which a priest of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Canada announces to his congregation this past Sunday that they may not come forward for Communion. In an obviously emotional moment, he makes the unfortunate statement that “the persecution of the Church continues.”
This sheds new light on why Archbishop Sotirios felt compelled to ask the priests of the Archdiocese to exercise more restraint in their public comments about Holy Communion and the pandemic, as we reported here. His Eminence’s request now seems entirely reasonable.
The irresponsibility of Orthodox Christianity’s “reporting” consists in its failure to make a simple phone call to the Archdiocese for clarification:
- June 14 — Churches in the province of Ontario are permitted to reopen for public worship, but limiting attendance to 30% capacity. The interior of the churches is clearly marked with coloured masking tape to show where people may and may not stand or sit, and how much distance they must place between themselves in the communion line.
- June 15 — The Ontario Ministry of Health advises, but does not mandate, the temporary suspension of Holy Communion.
- June 20 — Toronto Public Health mandates the temporary suspension of Holy Communion within the city limits, but does not suspend church attendance.
- July 7 — A phone call to the Archdiocese for clarification confirms the Archdiocese’s firm commitment to cooperate with federal, provincial, and municipal health officials in all matters pertaining to the pandemic.
- The Archdiocese remains in close contact with public health officials to discern when the laity can once again receive Holy Communion, considers the suspension of Communion to be a temporary measure, and most emphatically does not feel “persecuted.”
Orthodoxy in Dialogue applauds Archbishop Sotirios and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Canada for their commitment to public health and safety during this difficult time.
Canada has been widely reported as handling the pandemic far better than the US. Canada’s churches and other faith communities are doing their part to keep it that way.
Read Orthodox Christianity with extreme caution.