Metropolitan Athinagoras of Belgium issued a new encyclical regarding the coronavirus outbreak.
As he points out, in view of the current emergency, “let us join our prayers for all those who are going through difficult times, such as those severely affected by the coronavirus disease, those who fled their homes as a means of survival, that is, Syria’s refugee exodus, or the families affected by tragic incidents.”
Metropolitan Athinagoras noted, “Although the liturgies in our countries have been interrupted, they will be performed where permissible, for the people to live in complete spiritual unity with the people of God. We wish that our Lord would allow our Church’s mission to continue in the current circumstances.”
He adds, “Communication with God is personal and takes place everywhere and in all possible ways. The Holy Communion is the link that holds us together in life and unites us in the body of Christ. However, the Holy Communion has no magical properties, and if spiritual conditions are absent, it becomes shame and criticism according to Saint Paul the Apostle.”
In addition, he says that it is self-evident that the local Church complies with the instructions and decisions made by its legally elected governments. “For this reason, the decision of our Holy Metropolis is in accordance with the decisions of the Holy and Sacred Synod of our Ecumenical Patriarchate and the relevant royal and ministerial decrees. However, we are very saddened by these measures because the worship services are interrupted and especially at a time of great spiritual struggle of the Great Lent. However, It is with great sadness that we must respond to governments’ instructions while respecting the life and health of all people.
He says he is grateful to the healthcare professionals who are offering their services with a spirit of sacrifice, and that he will be praying that “God will help us to overcome this tragedy as quickly as possible for the sake of all humankind.”