Minsk, April 7, 2020
“Taking into account the report of the Deputy Minister of Health of the Republic of Belarus Elena Bogdan on the epidemiological situation and the current state of affairs in our country, the Diocesan Council unanimously decided that there are currently no grounds for closing churches and stopping public services,” His Eminence Metropolitan Pavel of Minsk writes in an epistle following a meeting with the deans of the Minsk Diocese of the Belarusian Church and an invited expert from the Ministry of Health on Thursday, April 2.
At the same time, the Council again reminds all who attend services to strictly adhere to the sanitary standards recommended by the Ministry of Health, “without violating faithfulness to the Holy Scriptures and Tradition of the Orthodox Church.”
For Holy Communion, communicants’ lips should not be wiped with the cloth, they should not kiss the chalice, and they are to drink the zapivka wine from disposable cups, or to receive only the antidoron, as is done in some Orthodox traditions.
The anointing of the faithful with oil during Vigil should be done only on the eve of Great Feasts, while on Saturday evenings and at the vigils for other polyeleos-rank feasts, the anointing is to be replaced by the general blessing of all the faithful in the church.
All faithful are called upon to be especially attentive to their health and that of others. If anyone is sick or lives with someone who displays symptoms, they are to refrain from going to church and immediately contact a doctor.
Moreover, beginning Saturday, April 4, until the end of the epidemic, all churches in the Minsk Diocese are to ring their bells at 9:00 AM, 12:00 PM, 3:00 PM, and 6:00 PM for 10 minutes at a time. The faithful are called upon to offer special prayers for the God’s mercy and an end to the epidemic during the ringing of the bells.
The text of special petitions are to be distributed to the clergy and faithful, who are also called upon to pray for all medical workers who are putting themselves at risk to serve others.
Finally, in homilies, clergy are called upon to explain to the people that all the sorrows and illnesses of today remind us of similar historical events in the Old and New Testaments and are connected with the sinful life of man. Thus, the people should be called upon to repent and amend their sinful ways.