Thursday, March 19, 2020

GOARCH response to coronavirus confusing? Keep reading.

(GOARCH-SF) - Letter from Archbishop Elpidophoros Conveying Liturgical Guidelines of the Ecumenical Patriarchate During the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic

Your Eminence,

It is with brotherly joy but also with much agony that I communicate with Your Eminence in these critical and unsettling times, when all of humanity is in turmoil over this this sudden pandemic of COVID-19. As Exarch of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, I am informing you of the just-issued decision of the Holy and Sacred Synod concerning the pastoral measures which must be taken for the protection of the flock of the Mother Church throughout the world.

Having discussed the situation with the Sacred Center of Orthodoxy, at length, and having inquired specifically about the United States, I received His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s reply, namely, that we should allow for the divine services, including Divine Liturgies, to be celebrated in our Holy Churches behind closed doors, as is the case with the Monasteries. In this way we may be able to keep our liturgical tradition alive, even in this minimal way, but also that we may broadcast through streaming and other means the aforementioned services for the spiritual benefit of our faithful.

Having duly conveyed the above to Your Eminence, I pray for continued strength and resolve as we face this unprecedented and disconcerting situation. With undiminished love in the Lord, and esteem,

New York, March 18, 2020

+Archbishop Elpidophoros of America

32 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. It is definitely confusing. The Patriarchate called for cessation of Services (at least according to the letter). Was there a mistranslation from the Greek? America and Australia have firmly said that the Liturgical cycle will continue, but that it will be livestreamed for the faithful. Archbishop Sotirios of Canada was quite adamant that the Churches will not close, and that the faithful should only heed directions from him and "no one else."

    I think what this shows is that Archbishop Elpidophoros (and others) are their own men, and have a sense of their duty as Bishop and Spiritual Father. We'll see how this pans out. A misunderstanding/mistranslation wouldn't surprise me----or that adjustments were made after some gentle pushback from the Diaspora.

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    1. According to Acrod bishop, Elpidophoros+ asked for an exemption for livestreams/closed door services and the Patriarch granted it universally. Sotirios is also doing the same (closed doors liturgies)https://www.gometropolis.org/website/third-encyclical-of-archbishop-sotirios-coronavirus/

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    2. That is what I figured happened. The most important and blessed thing is that the Liturgy is not stopping.

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  3. Latest WHO data, seasonal flu has a 10% mortality rate in confirmed cases world wide, CV19 only has a 4% mortality rate in confirmed cases worldwide.

    Just over 200 deaths from Corona Virus in America at this point, 22,000 deaths from Seasonal flu so far.

    Where is this World Ender that demands we give up Great Lent?

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    1. Sojourner, I believe your referring to the P&I mortality rate at the peak of flu season (https://www.cdc.gov/flu/weekly/overview.htm#Mortality), this is the proportion of deaths in hospitals from flu. As we dont test we have no way of knowing how many people are infected so have to infer backwards from deaths reported as flu related. The current mortality rate is ~.14%. The second figure you mention is 4% which is the current mortality rate of those diagnosed with CV19. This is high and since not everyone gets tested the actual death rate is probably .4-2.6% depending on hospital system and who gets infected (high risk have mortality 10%+) . At the moment my friend in CDA suspects US has around 40-50k actual cases. If this doubles every ~3 days US will hit 40 million around Pascha with around 200k-400k dead. I assume these drastic measures will slow that rate significantly. Certainly not World Ender but I dont want funerals for my elderly parishioners, we have a duty to the weakest.

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    2. Beg your forgiveness, I used a 3 day doubling rate, after further research 4-8 days is more appropriate. So using a 6 day doubling rate (R value of ~1.8). We will be at 1.3 million and 7k-13k deaths by Pascha. Again hard to model how much the extreme measures will slow the R Value / Doubling Rate, so hopefully much lower.

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    3. https://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?depth=1&hl=en&nv=1&rurl=translate.google.com&sl=auto&sp=nmt4&tl=en&u=https://www.agenzianova.com/a/5e6bcf1da7fbe3.23491954/2851060/2020-03-13/coronavirus-iss-in-italia-i-decessi-accertati-finora-per-causa-del-covid-19-sono-solo-due&usg=ALkJrhjcVn_eIRU4LICD0l5VHE9c6d042Q

      Latest from Italy, the average age of those who have died so far is over 80, and so far only 2 of the reported deaths are strictly the result of CV19 the rest of the patients already had “multiple chronic diseases” including respiratory infections that made them susceptible. Italy also has the 2nd oldest population in Europe and has a large influx of Chinese travelers so it’s understandable that they would be at risk to flu bugs.

      That is to say CV19 is nowhere near as deadly as we have been led to believe.

      https://centerforinquiry.org/video/discussing-the-coronavirus-outbreak-with-dr-paul-offit/

      Meanwhile the most extensive testing has taken place in South Korea, where they had already tested 100,000 people by the time we were barely starting, and once again their data shows the WHO average is skewed, and the real mortality rate is closer to Swine Flu which didn’t even reach seasonal flu levels.

      This isn’t going to wipe us out, as great as it would be for the media, we’re not looking at a massive death toll.

      I’m sure that when this goes out with a whimper the media will say it was a near miss that was only averted because we ruined our economy by over reacting.

      Influenza and pneumonia kill upwards of 50,000 on average, no panic, no quarantine, no ruining the economy. Diseases that are deadlier than CV19 kill more people every week than CV19 has killed in months, so either we need to change our whole way of life, or it’s time to admit this is an over reaction fueled by media misinformation and speculation.

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    4. The comments on this site should be so embarrassing for Orthodox Christians everywhere. Sadly the rabid, unhinged, science-denying traditionalists have absolutely no shame. They just believe the sacraments are magic, a wholly unorthodox position to anyone with any serious theological education and/or historical knowledge.

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    5. Why hello there random commenter. Your unrelated comment that makes a generic attack against a broad group of people based on your opinion with no theological backing is noted. The message appears to be, you know best, others are ignorant, no actual evidence to support your claims, shame shame shame. You’ll fit right in.

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    6. "... your opinion with no theological backing..."

      You know Sojourner, proof texting the Fathersn, endlessly criticizing bishops, and otherwise legalistically "defending Orthodoxy" from a decidedly "us vs. them" spirit is not doing theology, not even a itty tiny bit.

      At least your creative in your own way - whether its playing the amateur canonist, amateur epidemiologist, or present day martyr. It's slightly more interesting than being an MP propaganda fart can ;)

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    7. Well what can I say Jake? We can’t all be qualified like you. Still waiting for any Orthodox sources you have to support your Lewis/Tolkien brand Orthodoxy, not holding my breath mind you :)

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    8. That's right Sojourner, you are not qualified. You should spend some time with Fr. Thomas Hopko linked right here on this blog. He is your superior in every way when it comes to the Fathers, canons, and just "being Orthodox" which first and foremost is just being human. You might have him though on epidemiology... ;)

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    9. So canons church history and the saints, worthless, but you’ll listen to Fr. Hopko? Good to know. Unlike you I don’t view myself as superior, I like to listen to what the Church has to say, what the saints have to say. If you can’t find your opinion in the words of 2000 years of Orthodox witness, chances are you’re wrong :)

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    10. Sojourner, I have no need to argue with you. I've seen you and countless others on this site for years peddling your TradOx brand of nonsense. I only post in case any inquirer (heaven forbid) should happen upon this site and have the misfortune of reading the comments. They need to know that the vast majority of Orthodoxy is not this crazy. The only general worth of comments on this site is the entertainment value, as it seems to draw every kind of kook and crackpot.

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    11. Like I said, you fit right in :)

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  4. I'll pay just as much attention to the ep and his unanimously elected boy as I always have. The most comforting thing they can say now or for the next few years is nothing. I could use a break.

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    1. Aren't you the same crybaby who shot off his mouth on Monomakhos? You blubbered about priests with long hair, about bishops crowns, etc. Can your whining and blubbering save anybody's soul? Either answer honesty, or become a Protestant. To use the jargon of our Afro American friends, don't nobody want to hear your blubbering.

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  5. Using some video conferencing software/tech from a local university, our little mission parish just celebrated the liturgy of St. Basil together. It worked out better than I had dared hoped. When our priest said the words "...this *rational* and bloodless sacrifice..." I thought of how we were all *rationally* together, and the Church guided by her humble hierarchy has *rationally* adjusted our liturgical routine and practice to the circumstances of this plague and our life in it. Glory to God! We gave thanks and praise to God in a way that is acceptable to Him according to the Faith of our fathers, and any deficiency was the result of our usual sins and idols and NOT the result of our present circumstances. Glory to God!

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  6. "...Thus, there is no room for morbid dismay. Neither should we resist the measures that the government is taking in order to diminish the spreading of the afflictions we see in the lives of so many people. It is wrong to go against the authorities. We should do whatever the Government says, because they are not asking for us to deny our faith, they are only asking us to take a few measures for the common wellfare of all people, so that this trial may pass, and this is not at all unreasonable. Some people take it too confessionally, they raise flags and play the martyrs and the confessors. For us there is no doubt: we shall show pure submission to the orders of the Government. It is unfair to disobey the Government since, when we fall ill, it is to their hospitals that we run and they are the ones who undertake all the expenses and our care. Why not listen to them?...If they ask us to stop our Church services, let us simply surrender and bless the Providence of God. Besides, this reminds us of an old tradition that the Fathers had in Palestine: in Great Lent, on the Sunday of Cheese fare, after the mutual forgiveness, they would go out in the desert for forty days without Liturgy; they would only continue in fasting and prayer so as to prepare and return on Palm Sunday to celebrate in a godly way the Passion and the Resurrection of the Lord. And so, our present circumstances force us to live again that which existed of old in the bosom of the Church...If we shall not have Easter in the Church, let us remember that every contact with Christ is Easter. We receive grace in the Divine Liturgy because the Lord Jesus is present in it, He performs the sacrament and He is the One imparted to the faithful. However, when we invoke His Name, we enter the same Presence of Christ and receive the same grace. Therefore, if we are deprived of the Liturgy, we always have His Name, we are not deprived of the Lord...Therefore, my dear brethren, it is not necessary to make heroic confessions against the Government for the prophylactic measures that it takes for the good of all people. Neither should we despair, but only wisely machinate ways so as not to lose our living communication with the Person of Christ. Nothing can harm us, we must simply be patient for a certain period of time and God will see our patience, take away every obstacle, every temptation and we shall again see the dawn of joyful days, and we shall celebrate our common hope and love that we have in Christ Jesus..."

    Archimandrite Zacharias of St. John the Baptist Monastery in Essex, England

    http://anothercity.org/word-of-consolation-for-the-pandemic/

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  7. Sojourner, you previously wrote concerning the disparate responses throughout the the church to the COVID-19 outbreak:

    "It’s not surprising to see the difference in responses. It’s yet another example of the growing divide. The beginnings of a very different “Orthodoxy” are becoming self evident the more time passes. The only question is if there will be a course correction or a permanent schism."

    Now that the few bishops that you deemed to still be Orthodox have amended previous decisions and capitulated to the civil authorities and the non-existent threat of the virus by ordering closed door services, you've been left all alone on one side of the coronavirus schism.

    If nothing else, maybe that will help you reconsider how you talk about bishops who are doing their best to save lives.

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  8. Well I just got out of another blessed liturgy, not as many people as usual but still wonderful, I hope our bishop continues to hold his ground, but I admit I was a bit harsh in my earlier judgment of bishops who have ordered a ban on services even when the government hasn’t. I don’t agree with their choice, but I sympathize with the difficulty of the decisions made in a time of unique national panic. My comments were mostly directed at EPB who is indeed charting a course for a new “Orthodoxy”.

    It amazes me that in an Orthodox country like Greece where the Church has said to continue services, the government is now arresting clergy. Thank God in America freedom of religion is constitutionally guaranteed, but the DOJ is currently asking to suspend constitutional rights, which does not bode well for this country’s future.

    Anyways I think it’s time to give commenting a break, I enjoy honest discussions and learning from what others have gathered in their studies and experiences, but the comments these days are purely ‘my opinion vs your opinion’ ‘you’re dumb I’m smart’ etc etc. Not much to be gained.

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    1. I doubt your dumb Sojourner, but your obviously ignorant of a great many things. Your core issue of "EPB Papist vs. True Original Orthodoxy" is itself a mere parody of the actual history, ecclesiology, and theology of the Church. I don't agree with the EPatriarchate of about the last 100 years either, but I don't make it into something its not - I try to understand what it actually is. Your endless willingness to reduce everything, including this viral pandemic, into a pawn on your board of Greek vs. Slav (which is not even the actual board of the real Greek vs. Slav & Unam Sanctam tensions in the Church) is immature at best and plain offensive for the millions of real Orthodox believers who don't suffer such ignorance bu who nevertheless have to do their best with what has been given to them from God ecclesiastically, geographically, historically, etc. You seem smart enough to me to realize that Orthodoxy is not (historically and especially theologically) a proxy Church for some kind of grand solution to the pathologies and anxieties of the western religious mind and its inherent neurosis around authority (i.e. Pope's, congregationalism, individualism) and epistemology (Scripture, truth, relativism, etc.).

      On another subject, since you bring up what is or is not "constitutionally guaranteed", here is in an *informed* opinion (right or wrong): See "update 4" here:

      https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/rev-spell-rights-coronavirus-religious-liberty/

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  9. Sojourner, the reason why the Korean death rate is so low is because the Korean government (local, provincial and national) enacted social distancing and testing very early on, not because the disease "isn't that serious." SARS and MERS in particular made preparing for "the next one" a top priority.

    As for Social Distancing, Koreans have been doing it for two months now (they're still doing it). Vigorous testing, social distancing, local communities coming together and government stimulus to keep the economy on life support. Most importantly, people cooperating with the government guidelines. THAT is what it is going to take.

    Asia is used to these sorts of disease outbreaks (unfortunately) and as a result were better prepared to deal with it than the West. I think one positive fruit of this crisis is that it will shake the West from its complacency and make Disease control a much more important part of the government (Federal, state and local) and societal conversation.

    It can happen here is not just an empty slogan.


    As for your criticism of the EP, I think that nonsense should be put aside. Even the Russian Church has enacted very strict hygiene guidelines (some even more strict than what the other Churches were doing). If they too go to a small group-closed doors Liturgy (which may or may not happen), nobody should judge or blame (this includes sarcasm against the people who were critical of the Greek Churches for their measures).

    Now is not the time

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  10. "...EPB who is indeed charting a course for a new “Orthodoxy”.

    No doubt about that.

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  11. Ad orientem blog reported that your site claimed that the police shut down Jordanville services. Is that true?

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  12. Fr. Gregory, I just checked that site. Didn't see it.

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  13. I just found out that Herkimer County(where the Monastery is located) had seven cases of the virus as of 21 hours ago. I suspect the police may have forbidden public access to the monastery, rather than telling the monks that can't have services for themselves. But I have learned nothing definite.

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  14. I'm afraid not even the police can save people from their own stupidity.

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  15. I'll tell what's stupid. That Italian mayor who proclaimed " hug a Chinese day." THAT'S what I call stupid. I don't care if people call me a racist for mentioning this.

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