The twenty-third meeting of the Orthodox Episcopal Assembly of Benelux (CEOB-OBB) was held by teleconference on Tuesday 16 November 2021, under the Presidency of Metropolitan Athenagoras of Belgium (Ecumenical Patriarchate) and with the participation of Bishop Lukas (Patriarchate of Serbia), Metropolitan Seraphim (Romanian Patriarchate), Bishop Markos of Neamtz, Representative of Metropolitan Joseph (Romanian Patriarchate), Bishop Dositheos (Patriarchate of Georgia) and Bishop Joachim of Apollonia (Assistant Bishop of the Holy Metropolis of Belgium-Ecumenical Patriarchate).
The Hierarchs exchanged views on the health crisis with the resurgence of the pandemic in the three Benelux countries and the possible consequences of the restrictive measures taken during the gatherings of the faithful in the temples. They were briefed by the President on the meetings he had, as the head of the Orthodox Church in those countries, with the Prime Ministers and other government officials of both Belgium and Luxembourg, and the meetings of which were mainly concerned with the strict observance of the measures taken but also the need to raise awareness of all in favor of vaccination. Therefore, in the face of the alarming outbreak of cases and given the current medical data which show that vaccination, along with other protection measures, is the most effective means of reducing the transmission of the disease. The Hierarchs urge the faithful to observe the protection measures and to accept the help of medical science. Of course, every human being has the freedom to choose with a clear conscience.
Then, the Bishops gave their consent for the establishment and operation of a confidentiality committee for the whole of the Benelux whose purpose will be to manage and clarify matters of moral abuse in the ecclesiastical space, if any.
The issue of pastoral care in the Belgian and Dutch prisons and the legal status of their ministry was another topic of discussion and pastoral reflection for the Hierarchs.
The Hierarchs also examined the situation and progress of the Orthodox Church in the Netherlands and then exchanged news and information about the activities of the dioceses.
The next meeting of the Episcopal Assembly will be held on June 16, 2022.