In an interview with The National Herald, Metropolitan Emmanuel of France spoke about the current situation in France, which is severely affected by the coronavirus.
The Metropolitan emphasized that there are clergy and faithful which have been affected by the coronavirus disease.
He even spoke of an extraordinarily difficult crisis, a crisis that no one was prepared for, and the “invisible enemy” took them by surprise.
He stressed that the parish priests were allowed to celebrate services within strict physical limits and boundaries. “I think that under the current circumstances, everyone understands that the Divine Liturgy and other services should be celebrated in moderation and in a manner appropriate for the situation,” he noted.
He also stated that on March 23 French President Emmanuel Macron took the initiative of inviting representatives of France’s main religions and churches, as well as the Minister of the Interior and other actors, to an audio-conference.
During the debate, the topic of Holy Week and Easter was raised, and President Macron was unequivocal in his decision that, given the current situation and the spread of the pandemic, it would not be possible for Christians to celebrate Easter, for Jews to celebrate Pesach, or for Muslims to celebrate Ramadan with assemblies of the faithful.
As The National Herald reports, he recalled the words of the Ecumenical Patriarch a few days ago, who said “However, that which is at stake is not our faith —it is the faithful. It is not Christ —it is our Christians. It’s not the God-man —but human beings.”
Asked about his view on the coronavirus crisis, he said, “This pandemic is a test that God has allowed in the context of His love for man, not to destroy us, but to have compassion on us. As we are saved from danger, now we must come to our senses and recover from the drunkenness of pride, vanity, stupidity, and indifference. It is time to bring God into our lives – to borrow an expression from Aristotle, to see the essence and not the infinite. Our conversation with the French President ended with the following words: “After the crisis our lives will certainly be unlike anything we have experienced so far.”
I am convinced that our lives should have changed, without denying the progress of science, by acquiring a new perspective and goal, especially for us as Orthodox Christians. Let Christ be the center of our lives, and may everything that is useful and beneficial for us flow from Him”.