Sofia, April 10, 2020
After meeting with His Holiness Patriarch Neofit of Bulgaria and the Bulgarian Holy Synod yesterday, April 9, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov reiterated that he cannot and will not close the churches for Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Pascha.
The Minister met with the hierarchs at the Church headquarters in Sofia to discuss the issue of celebrating the services under quarantine, reports the official site of the Bulgarian Church.
Boykov told the Patriarch and the Synod that the peak of the coronavirus epidemic in Bulgaria is expected during the Paschal celebrations and called for strengthened sanitary measures.
Accordingly, the hierarchs decided not to distribute palm fronds, pussy willows, and flowers to the faithful on Palm Sunday, and to adopt a number of additional measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The planned flight to Jerusalem to receive the Holy Fire has been canceled, and the funds allocated for it will be used to fight the virus.
However, the churches will remain open on Palm Sunday, and through Pascha, Prime Minister Boykov assured.
“You want us to close the gates and expel the priests. But there are many people for whom this feast is everything, and for them it is vitally important to be in church. Therefore, I can’t do it,” Boykov said after meeting with the hierarchs, reports mediapool.bg.
“The Church saved us from Ottoman slavery. We can do everything with discipline. It depends on us, but I can’t come with the police and close the churches,” he emphasized.
“Our Orthodox religion, if you read it, it is extremely wise, there is a recipe for everything, there is an interpretation; you can learn everything. We have the Bible, and it says, ‘Without the Lord you can do nothing.’ So how I can close the churches, so you can’t pray to Him without Whom you can do nothing?” the Prime Minister added.
His Eminence Metropolitan Gabriel of Lovech, who was also present at the press conference following the meeting, emphasized that he does not believe it is possible to spread the virus inside the churches, but that the Church was taking heightened sanitary measures so as to be above reproach.
The statement on the Bulgarian Church site also reiterates the sanitary measures for Church services previously issued by the Holy Synod.