Patriarch Neophyte of Bulgaria and the members of the Holy Synod held a meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister, Tomislav Donchev, Prof. General Ventsislav Mutafchiysky, and the Director of Ecclesiastical Matters at the Council of Ministers, Emil Velinov, on the occasion of the present state of emergency in our country because of the coronavirus pandemic.
During the meeting, the representatives of the government and of the National Operations Headquarters clarified the situation in the world and in Bulgaria, a number of issues were discussed in relation to the religious and devotional life in Bulgaria, as well as the need for organizing the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ.
The Holy Synod acquainted the representatives of the National Operations Headquarters with the measures that have been taken by now and with the decisions undertaken on March 30, 2020, and namely:
- The Holy Synod blesses and supports completely the efforts of the state institutions directed towards protecting the life and health of the Bulgarian nation;
- The Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church – Bulgarian Patriarchate, in accordance with the requirements of the state institutions, calls on the Christian believers to stay at their homes;
- All the churches within the diocese of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church – Bulgarian Patriarchate remain open and there are going to be served all the services assigned for the Holy Quadragesima in all churches;
- The rite of giving Holy Communion remains unaltered. The clergymen are obliged to give with a particular caution the Holy Communion only to those Orthodox Christians who have confessed to them and whom they know personally;
- If sick people, who cannot visit the church, want to take Holy Communion, they shall be given reserved Holy Gifts, as the respective measures for this shall be taken by the clergymen, as is the established practice in the Church;
- Disinfectants shall be used and personal hygiene shall be maintained, the floors of the churches shall be cleaned regularly with the respective detergents, the icons shall be wiped, carpets, strips of carpets, etc. shall be removed from the churches’ interior for easier disinfection, the seating places shall be cleaned every few hours. Mats soaked with disinfectant shall be placed at the entrances of the churches, which shall be maintained damp during all the working hours;
- The church servants with minor orders shall use personal protective measures (masks, gloves, disinfectants);
- The laypeople visiting the churches shall use protective masks, as well as they shall observe the regulated distance;
- The priests who have even the slightest signs of a health indisposition shall abstain from divine services, about which they shall inform their metropolitan bishop;
- The Sacraments Holy Baptism and Holy Matrimony shall be performed with a limited number of people, strictly following the requirements;
- The funeral service of a deceased person shall be performed outdoors, with the presence of only the closest relatives;
- The Holy Synod calls on the clergymen and the God protected flock to enhance their spiritual ascesis in repentance, fasting, prayer, vigil, confession and unity to the Body and Blood of Christ;
- The Holy Synod expresses their gratitude and extends prayers to God, the Giver of all, for the government, the doctors, the nurses and the medical workers, for all the other social servants – policemen, military servants, transport officers, shop assistants, all those who expose themselves to risk in order for our daily life to be preserved within the possible limits.
At the end of the reception, Patriarch Neophyte expressed his hope that “with God’s help and with our common efforts the crisis would be over quickly and very soon we would go back to our daily way of life in prayer to God in the church and we would celebrate the Resurrection of Christ with spiritual joy.”