The restrictive measures in the churches are characterized as restriction of the religious freedom and Christian worship by the Athonite monks, while they describe the sacrament of Holy Communion as absolutely necessary for the spiritual life.
In a statement, the Holy Community of Mount Athos acknowledged the need to take measures to avoid coronavirus, but noted that the sacrament of Holy Communion is “the greatest sacrament of the Orthodox Church and is absolutely necessary for the spiritual life and the faithful, thus faithful cannot be deprived of it.”
The statement said the Holy Community was not opposed to the anti-coronavirus measures, and respected the efforts of the authorities and the scientists in health structures to reduce the pandemic. “We are doing our best, God willing, and for this reason the necessary protection measures have been taken and are still being respected with care on Mount Athos,” the statement said. But it adds:
“However, in no way should this pandemic and its treatment be linked to the ability of the faithful to participate in the holy Mysteries of the Orthodox Church, resulting in the restriction of religious freedom and Christian worship.”
“In the current difficult situation of the pandemic disease, there is an additional need for refuge in God,” the statement said, among other things.