UOC hierarch: Temples must be open so that every believer can commune
The Church hopes that if the restrictive measures taken due to the situation with the coronavirus are strengthened, the temples will not be closed.
Temples must be open since there is no church life without the Holy Eucharist, said Metropolitan Anthony (Pakanich) of Boryspil and Brovary, UOC Chancellor, in an interview with Klymenko Time.
“We’ve taken a number of decisions that relate to a certain restriction in worship because there is a clear legislative decision that more than 10 people cannot be gathered,” said the hierarch. “For us, it is very difficult because the Ukrainian Orthodox Church is not just the biggest denomination in Ukraine, it is also the most numerous if to say in the secular language. Our temples are always crowded, especially during Lent, when everybody concentrates their attention on religious life as much as possible, everybody confesses and takes communion. We understand the threat and the concern of our state authorities. Therefore, it was decided that if there are more people, we will be ready to go out and serve in the streets."
He recalled that, according to the decision of the Holy Synod, these days the temples of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church remain open.
“Yes, divine services will be held with the participation of a small number of people. But for every believer to have the opportunity to commune, the temple must be open. And a person, having previously agreed with the priest, comes to the temple, confesses, prays, takes communion. Because religious life is always experienced, you cannot be a theorist in faith, in religious life. And the life of an Orthodox person focuses on prayer, both private and public, and the life of an Orthodox believer cannot be imagined outside the Holy Mysteries,” Vladyka Anthony emphasized.
According to him, no one knows how the situation with the coronavirus will develop in the future, and therefore the Church “decided that in the event of any other emergency events, we will make special decisions. And the Synod gave such a blessing to the ruling bishops that if something special is needed in the regions, the bishop can do this, according to the church canons and consulting the Primate.”
Regarding communion during an epidemic, the hierarch recalled that there was an experience of church life in such conditions, “because there have been a lot of epidemics before, and the Church has made different decisions”.
“Here, first of all, sanity should be preserved, and a person should be given the opportunity not to fear. There are no clear regulations in the UOC that so and so should be done – at the discretion of the priest with the blessing of the ruling bishop. We even noted in the Synod – we did not specifically address the moment of communion but said that if there is such a need, you can offer a drink (‘zapivka’) in disposable cups. <...> This is also a test of people's faith,” the hierarch said.
He emphasized that it is impossible to live for a believer without the Communion, and there is no church life without the Eucharist", therefore we hope that, despite some difficulties and the strengthening of the regime, our churches will not be closed and there will be the opportunity to perform the Holy Eucharist".
Earlier, the UOC Chancellor urged believers in difficult times not to panic but to trust God.