Hundreds of Orthodox Christians gathered yesterday outside and inside churches in Bulgaria for the Resurrection Service. Bulgaria is among the few countries in the world, where churches remained open on Easter, despite the coronavirus pandemic.
However, many Bulgarians preferred to watch the service on television, as the government urged citizens to pray and celebrate Easter at home. But 58-year-old Radka Petrova, who attends church services frequently, said that she was not afraid of the virus, because the Church was a place of healing. “I remember the days of communism when officers on horses had been surrounding churches to intimidate the faithful,” she said.
Bulgarian authorities have urged citizens to follow the rules of social distancing and the ban on essential movement on Easter days. But even though most of the faithful complied, the priests and hundreds of believers disregarded the instructions. The Orthodox Church of Bulgaria has been criticised for keeping churches open despite the pandemic. Many argue that it has not even prevented believers from kissing icons, while the faithful have been receiving Holy Communion.
Bulgarian Patriarch Neophyte and the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church issued a special message on the occasion of Easter on Saturday.
It says: “It is trying for all of us to rejoice in thе news about thе Resurrection of Christ and about the victory over death on days when so many lives are lost prematurely.
On Easter, our thoughts and prayers will be with those who are no longer among us […] and with those who are fighting this vile disease, doctors and medical workers in particular and everyone who is at the forefront of the fight for life.”
The leaders of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church congratulate Bulgarians all over the world and conclude: “Let the grace, peace, and love of the Lord Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, be with us all!”
By a decision of the Holy Synod the message was read in churches across the country on Easter.
Source: ANA-MPA, BTA