Chișinău, May 21, 2020
Meeting at the Metropolitan residence in Chișinău under the chairmanship of His Eminence Metropolitan Vladimir on Tuesday, May 19, the Holy Synod of the Moldovan Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate adopted an address to Prime Minster Ion Chicu, calling on him to work together with Church representatives to return to regular Church services, reports the site of the Moldovan Church.
“Otherwise we assume the canonical and moral right to exclude you from commemorations in the Church’s prayers,” the hierarchs write, emphasizing that in a democratic society, the Church should be consulted on matters that pertain to it.
The Synod also addressed the authorities about the impossibility of forcing obligatory vaccinations upon the people, as OrthoChristian reported yesterday.
PM Chicu responded on Facebook, calling for a reform of Moldova’s educational system, as “such ‘warnings’ would not appear in an enlightened society.”
A state of emergency was in effect in Moldova from mid-March to mid-May, during which no parishioners were allowed to attend the services. Several priests who violated the ban were fined, reports Interfax-Religion.
Under the current rules, in effect until June 30, services are allowed with parishioners, though only outside in the open air. The postponement of the full lifting of restrictions is “outrageous, disgusting, and even embarrassing,” the Moldovan hierarchs believe.
“In a democratic state, not only do the authorities make demands on religions, but religions also have the right to speak about their own expectations. Given the fact that the Church is separated from the state, it was possible to respectfully recommend inviting us to the negotiating table to make a decision,” the statement reads.
“With these measures, you have hit not only the moral and religious foundations of the people, but also your own citizens, whom you treat as an ordinary mass of voters,” the hierarchs emphasize.
Thus, while the Church appreciates the safety measures that have been taken, it cannot accept being excluded from decisions about the participation of its own flock in the Divine services.
The hierarchs are also disappointed that certain priests were punished by the state, “for their pastoral approach, because they remained faithful to the vows and personal commitments they took in the ordination, to serve their neighbor and God, because they sought to comfort and help their own shepherds.”
On the other hand, the state allows people to put their health at risk on public transportation and in restaurants and stores, the Synod notes.
“So if we’re ready to take a risk when we get on public transport, for food, for walks, or other things related to earthly life, why don’t you allow us to take a risk for eternal life as well? This is the fundamental teaching of our faith: Only through a faithful death do we pass to eternal life in Christ,” the address reads.
Further, the hierarchs are concerned about the apocalyptic radicalization that reared its head during this time of crisis: “The marginalization of the Church and its being sent to the public nook only further fuel the most gloomy and apocalyptic scenarios. Against the background of general anxiety, several groups with radical visions were activated in the Church, which also creates tensions between parishioners and priests.”
On the other hand, returning to normal Church life will spiritually strengthen the people, the hierarchs believe.
“In conclusion, we welcome the initiative to invite representatives of the Orthodox Church in Moldova as soon as possible and to reformulate the decision in accordance with the norms of Christian morality, following the example of other European states,” the statement reads.
“Otherwise we assume the canonical and moral right to exclude you from the commemorations in the Church’s prayers,” it continues.
“Do not fight against the Church, for He who defends it is Christ. And fighting with Christ, you will never emerge victorious, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church (Matt. 16.18),” the Synod concludes, adding thanks to the doctors and medical staff who are on the frontlines of the present pandemic.
The ban on holding services inside churches will remain in force as long as the epidemiological situation remains serious, PM Chicu responded, reports Interfax-Religion.
“This crisis reminds us how important it is to restore the country’s education system. In an enlightened society, such ‘warnings’ would not appear. God forgive me,” the Prime Minister wrote on his Facebook page.
He urged everyone to remain calm, saying: “Let us all pray for the lucidity and health of the people, including bureaucrats and employees and the Church.”
“Forgive me, o Lord, and keep me from sin, and give me reason and strength to react wisely and calmly to such things. Let’s be merciful and understanding. It may happen to each of us that our minds are clouded by the power of instincts and temptations,” the Prime Minister wrote.