Ruthenian Eparchy of Mukachevo
Bishop Milan Šašik of the Ruthenian Eparchy of Mukachevo, which is immediately subject to the Holy See, has issued a statement meant "to prevent panic and misunderstandings about the health or life of our parishioners, and to prevent restrictions or prohibitions on church services." He has encouraged those with symptoms of viral disease to stay home.
He recommended that the icons and Gospel book not be kissed, but rather reverenced with the sign of the cross and a bow.
"During Communion, do not touch with the lips and do not lick the spoon; bring infants only for the blessing with the chalice and not for Communion," Bishop Milan wrote.
The bishop also recommended that those who fear infection should make a spiritual communion, "by eliciting an act of faith and love for God and a strong desire to receive Christ into their hearts."
He also recalled "the first Christians who, for the sake of participating in the Eucharist, risked their own lives until death." The bishop mentioned the 49 martyrs of Abitinae, killed during the Diocletian persecution in 304, who "sacrificed their lives for Communion with Christ" in the face of a ban on assembly in the Roman empire.
"Let us be prudent at this time and may the Lord inspire us to experience in peace and tranquility all the realities of this earthly life," Bishop Milan said. "Let us contemplate the crucified Christ, that renewed in joy we may experience His Resurrection."
Orthodox Church of Ukraine
In a March 13 communique from the press office of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine (the autocephaly of which was recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate in January 2019), its bishops insisted that in the churches, believers should continue to reverence icons, though without touching or kissing them.
Following Communion in the Divine Liturgy, the Orthodox Church provides a chalice of water mixed with wine. Normally a single chalice is shared for this purpose, but the bishops have said that at this time the water and wine mixture should be distributed through disposable plastic cups.
At the same time, the Orthodox Church of Ukraine insists that the Eucharist, which is traditionally consumed by the Orthodox from a single chalice and a common spoon, should be treated not as consumption of food, but as a sacrament, which is served "for the healing of body and soul".
Currently, the OCU makes it clear that believers can be infected by the kissing of icons, but not from the common spoon with which Communion is distributed.
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
The OCU Metropolitan of Lviv, Dimitriy Rudyuk, wrote on Facebook March 6 calling "all other ways of [distributing] Communion that deny the traditional form of the Eucharist in the Orthodox Church or any limitation on the reception of the true Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ" blasphemy and a lack of faith.
Metropolitan Dimitriy addressed this especially to those afraid of falling ill through receiving Communion from the single chalice and spoon.
His post following a gathering of representatives from local Churches convoked by the Lviv government to discuss how priests could help to stop the spread of coronavirus, and to reduce the population's fear.
Fr. Cyril Hovorun, a priest of the OCU who is acting director of the Huffington Ecumenical Institute at Loyola Marymount University, affirms that viruses can be transmitted through the Sacrament. Moreover, he maintained in a March 12 Facebook post that to think differently means to fall into docetism, which was condemned at the First Council of Nicaea.
Fr. Cyril wrote that each person must decide whether to Communicate in light of the possibility of transmission, and that "to deceive people and themselves, referring to faith and promising that nothing will happen, is theologically incorrect, and also irresponsible."
Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate)