‘May we again Live the Worship and Sacraments of our Holy Church without Impediment’

15 December 2020

On the occasion of recent developments in Cyprus, with the closing of churches, his Eminence Metropolitan Athanasios of Limassol [Lemesos] has sent a letter to the priests and deacons of the diocese.

‘Beloved fathers and brothers in Christ,

I am aware of and share in the pain and sorrow which has come upon you because of the renewed closure of the churches in our metropolitan region a mere eleven days after they opened. I also share your pastoral concern over the management of this unprecedented situation, which has put us in an exceptionally difficult position vis-à-vis the faithful. Therefore, as your father and bishop, I would like to address my humble thoughts to you.

It is already nine months since our country, and, indeed, the whole world, came face to face with the problem of the coronavirus. We all feel exhausted and drained and we worry about the long-term effects that this trial will bring. Our only consolation and our only refuge remains our All-Good God and our Holy Church. Our churches should have stayed open, naturally with all the measures in place dictated by the situation in which we find ourselves, the faithful should have been able to go to church, to take communion, to go to confession and to receive the sanctifying grace of the Church. Yet the state has decided that services are to be held without a congregation, which means, in effect, that the churches are closed.

Each of us has an inalienable democratic right politely to express his or her disagreement with specific decisions of the state. We shall do the same, in a proper and appropriate manner. As has already been announced, an extraordinary session of the Holy Synod of the Church of Cyprus has been called for next Tuesday, the only item on the agenda being the closure of churches during this holy period of the Christmas fast. We shall endeavor to achieve the best possible outcome, so that the faithful are not deprived of the opportunity to go to church and take communion during the holy days of Christmas.

Since we, as shepherds of the Church, know very well that we are under God’s providence, I would like, in conclusion, to urge you to pray intensely that the tragic trial we are undergoing may be shortened and that we may soon experience the services and sacraments of the Church once again, without let or hindrance’.