Istanbul, March 19, 2020
Effective as of yesterday through the end of March, all services and events in churches of the Patriarchate of Constantinople throughout the world have been suspended.
A statement published by the Chief Secretariat of the Holy and Sacred Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople yesterday notes that the Patriarchate is carefully monitoring the situation “with an urgent sense of responsibility towards its faithful and all people without exception” as the coronavirus crisis continues to spread.
In the statement, the Patriarchate reiterates its appeal for everyone to limit their outings and travels and to follow the instructions of the responsible health authorities, and “commends the spirit of self-sacrifice demonstrated by those working in the field of healthcare and expresses its gratitude for their extraordinary and exhaustive efforts to assist those in need, as well as for the danger they knowingly risk by coming in contact with those infected by Covid-19.”
Moreover, all Divine services and events are to cease: “In light of decisions already taken by some eparchies of the Ecumenical Throne, today we universally declare our ecclesiastical resolution and mandate to cease all divine services, events, and rites, with the exception of private prayer in churches that will remain open, until the end of March.”
This decision will be later reassessed.
Monasteries are to continue celebrating the services, though pilgrims and visitors are not allowed. According to statements on social media, the parishes of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America of the Patriarchate of Constantinople have reportedly obtained permission to continue celebrating the services with the priest and a chanter for the purposes of livestreaming.
Lastly, the Patriarchal offices in Istanbul will remain closed until further notice.