An unsettling uptick in the number of Coronavirus infections in Australia has led to renewed concerns over social distancing and public assembly in the country and caused several Melbourne churches to be closed once again due to fears of the virus spreading further.
Makarios, the new Greek Orthodox Archishop of Australia, has now announced that public worship in seven churches, including Holy Trinity in Footscray; Saint Paraskevi, St. Albans; Saint Dimitrios, Ascot Vale; Panagia Soumela, East Keilor; St. Vasilios, Brunswick; Saint Eleftherios, Brunswick; and Saint Nektarios, in Fawkner, will be suspended pending further notice.
All these churches are in areas which have seen increases in the number of coronavirus cases in the past several days.
Archbishop Makarios issued an encyclical addressed particularly to Archimandrite Eumenios, the Archdiocesan Vicar of Northcote, and Bishop Ezekiel of Dervis, the Archdiocesan Vicar of Melbourne, stipulating that churches under their jurisdictions will once again be closed, just as they were during the worst weeks of the coronavirus pandemic.
However, Divine Liturgies and other services, with the exception of funerals, will still be held, but just one priest and a chanter will be allowed to take part in each church. If the parishioners belonging to the closed churches desire Communion or need to hold funerals for loved ones during this difficult time, they are asked to go to other neighboring churches which are still open.
The Archbishop implored his flock to be obedient to these directives in the encyclical, saying “I urge you to comply with the specific guidelines by properly guiding our priests and the Boards of Directors of the above Holy Temples, and at the same time I warmly ask you to intensify your prayers to God, the Gift Giver, Whose intervention awaits all humanity.”