Metropolitan Athenagoras of Belgium and Exarch of the Netherlands and Luxembourg gave an interview with the newspaper “The National Herald,” on the situation that has been created due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Metropolitan Athenagoras stated that the days we experience are the most difficult days that our world has lived in the last decades. “We are truly living a sudden and unrecognizable experience, which is not only about the spread of a virus, which has led to a pandemic, but also about the suspension of our social life and consequently the worship life of our Church.”
He stressed that he had a hard time making the decision to suspend the operation of the churches, “but I had the responsibility of my flock, and respecting the urging of the Mother Church and our Ecumenical Patriarch that the archpriests must abide by the measures and requirements of the state to ensure public health, we have taken the appropriate measures and were forced to suspend our worship events.”
Metropolitan Athenagoras noted that among the cases of coronavirus in Belgium, there were two clergymen, “who were seriously ill with the virus, as they informed me in our frequent communications, and both were treated in Intensive Care Units.”
He also added that the Holy Week was very difficult. “The celebration of Easter found us alone, with the doors of our churches closed, away from the flock. The night of the Resurrection was very strange. We lived the Resurrection in a, let me use the term, ‘cold’ environment.
However, we must be careful and understand that the situation we live in is a solution of necessity and does not conform to the spirit of the Orthodox tradition which is the communion of persons, the Eucharistic communion of the whole body of the Church. By definition, the Church is a communion and a meeting. We believe that the difficulties will be overcome soon and that we will return.”