The German government has decided to ban the participation of the faithful in the Mystery of Holy Communion; while allowing the attendance to the Divine Liturgy, it forbids the distribution of the Holy Communion with the holy Spoon.
This ban was announced in an encyclical by Metropolitan Augustinos of Germany, who stressed that “althought we can all attend church services, no one can receive the Holy Communion, but the priests who perform the service.”
He also added that “this is the saddest and most painful measure I have ever been forced to take in my forty-year ecclesiastical ministry as Metropolitan of Germany.”
As Metropolitan Augustinos of Germany told protothema.gr, “I appeal to the world to exercise and be patient. This difficult time will pass,” he said, adding that he had a hard time announcing this encyclical, which he hopes to recall soon.
He stressed that “when the state says that I cannot use the holy Spoon in Holy Communion as a Bishop of the Church, I have no right to change the way the Holy Communion is offered, and invent a different way.” He explained that this was decided by the German government and it should apply although is very hard, like the closed temples. “We performed the Easter service with three people, behind closed doors,” Metropolitan Augustinos said.
As soon as the measures reach the point to control the Holy Communion too, the Metropolitan of Germany says, we do not want any relativization and to say that we will find another way, like with plastic spoons as others said, since it is like saying that the virus can be transmitted by the Holy Communion.
The Metropolitan of Germany says: “Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, answering a topical question, writes the following. ‘The Church of Christ, obedient to the urging of its Founder, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21), has always recognized the high responsibility of the State to manage its “household,” and maintained for herself the sacred and indelible right to immovably preserve what she has received, to organize ecclesiastical life and to perform the sacraments according to the canonical and ecclesiological tradition and self-awareness.
In this spirit, the Church has accepted, for an appointed time, the restrictive measures imposed by individual states due to the pandemic of the new coronavirus COVID-19.
However, the fact that the Church has accepted the temporary ban of performing services in the churches with the participation of the faithful does not mean that she can and wish to negotiate the Orthodox piety and especially the sacrament of the sacraments of life, the Eucharist, and the way it is distributed.
The ecnyclical emphasizes: “The Holy Great Church of Christ adheres to the God-given Orthodox teaching of the Divine Eucharist.”
The speech of our Patriarch is clear and expresses the self-consciousness of the Orthodox Church and all of its members all over the world. Nevertheless, in view of the opening of the holy temples in the German territory, Legislative Decrees have been issued, which, in addition to the other security measures that have already been adopted, go so far as to regulate the manner of distributing the Eucharist, that is, to prohibit Holy Communion from the chalice with the use of the Spoon.
Therefore, with deep sorrow, I would like to inform you that, until the date of the expiry of the above Legislative Decrees, althought we can all attend church services, no one can receive the Holy Communion, but the priests who perform the Liturgy. It is understood that the Measures, of April 30, 2020, to prevent dissemination of Coronavirus issued by the authorities, the practical instructions, of May 1, 2020, to our faithful,and the additional measures for the avoidance of the spread of Coronavirus on May 13, 2020 are valid in full and until a new decision.”