Chambésy, Switzerland, June 25, 2020
There is no need to change the manner of distributing Holy Communion to the faithful, despite any external factors the Church may face today, declared the Holy Synod of Constantinople at its session at the Orthodox Center in Chambésy, Switzerland, today, under the chairmanship of Patriarch Bartholomew.
The Synod’s statement comes after Pat. Bartholomew made contact with the primates of the Local Orthodox Churches to coordinate a discussion on the manner of distributing Holy Communion in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Synodal statement concerning Holy Communion reads in full:
1. The Sacrament of the Divine Eucharist is non-negotiable, because we believe that the Body and Blood of Christ the Savior is thereby given to the faithful “for the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting,” and it is impossible for any form of sickness to be conveyed to those who partake of the Sacrament of Sacraments.
2. As regards the manner in which the spotless Mysteries are conveyed to the faithful, the Church, honoring Sacred Tradition, which is interwoven with everyday ecclesiastical practice and kenotic experience, holds on to what has been true from the ages until today, as the unsleeping guardian and keeper of what the Holy Fathers have passed down to us, and sees absolutely no need to change the [existing] manner [of distributing Holy Communion] despite the pressures of external factors.
At the same time, the Mother Church, with concern for the particular needs of her children in the diaspora, grants to the hierarchs serving there, in their pastoral sensitivity, responsibility, and conscience, to employ temporary measures to deal with the problems arising from the laws of the local polity, always in coordination with the sacred center of the Phanar, for the greater spiritual good of the Christian people.
In a memo dated May 18, Archbishop Elpidophoros, the head of Constantinople’s Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, instructed the parish priests of the direct Archdiocesan District to begin to use multiple single-use metal spoons to distribute Holy Communion as a temporary measure throughout the ongoing pandemic.
However, several GOARCH metropolitans have specifically instructed their priests to continue to commune the faithful as always, from the same spoon. See the statements from Metropolitan Alexios of Atlanta, Metropolitan Evangelos of New Jersey, and Metropolitan Nathanael of Chicago.