Toronto, February 20, 2021
In its “COVID-19 Guidance for Places of Worship” issued on June 20, the city of Toronto officially banned Holy Communion. But while the city itself enforced the regulation inconsistently, a total ban was temporarily instituted by the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto at the instigation and insistence of the Greek Community of Toronto (GCT) charitable organization.
The GCT owns the four Greek Orthodox churches in the city of Toronto. After a parishioner of one of the churches made a complaint about the priest continuing to offer Holy Communion, a health inspector visited the Church of St. Demetrios and clarified that if parishioners continue to commune then fines will be issued. The GCT reported the matter to the Metropolis, and the next day, Metropolitan Sotirios decreed that priests not offer Holy Communion at all.
Then, on February 8, the GCT announced to its members that its overall revenues have dropped by 90% due to the pandemic. The organization is currently $4.5 million in debt and projects $2 million in lost earnings in 2021. An advisory committee determined that for the GCT survive, it would have to sell off one of its four churches.
“According to our constitution, as board of directors, we have a moral and legal obligation to preserve and promote the Greek Community of Toronto. We have weathered many storms in the past and thrived despite them. This current situation is unlike anything we have experienced in the past,” the GCT statement reads.
However, in a statement published this morning on Romfea, Archbishop Sotirios of Canada emphasizes that the Archdiocese will help the four churches pay their debts so that none of them will have to be sold.
The administration of the GCT made mistakes, he writes. Of the 16 Greek Orthodox churches in Greater Toronto, only the GCT’s four churches are struggling, however, no one should dwell on and judge these mistakes, but all should ban together as Greeks and Orthodox Christians to help strengthen the community, the Archbishop writes.
To accomplish this, Abp. Sotirios proposes establishing the Greek Community of Greater Toronto, with each parish becoming a separate community and legal entity, holding ownership over its own church and property.
“The churches were bought by Orthodox Christians to be preserved forever as places of worship,” the Archbishop writes.
And the Metropolis of Toronto will help the church’s pay off their debt, “perhaps up to the full amount of debt corresponding to each church, so that each community and its church can stand on its own two feet,” the Archbishop affirms.
In conclusion, he calls upon the Orthodox faithful to imitate the heroes of the Greek Revolution, the 200th anniversary of which is being celebrated this year, to make Hellenism in Canada great.
“Let no one be left behind. Let no one despair. Christ will accompany us and bless us,” the Archbishop concludes.