Following an emergency online meeting of the Bishops of the Holy Archdiocese of Australia yesterday, 30 December 2021, a snap decision was made to cancel or postpone major religious celebrations and liturgies to protect citizens and members of the clergy from the rapid spread of COVID-19.
Chaired by Archbishop Makarios of Australia, the meeting focused on the significant increase in coronavirus cases, primarily in the States of New South Wales and Victoria. Having a strong sense of their responsibility before God and their fellow human beings, both the Archbishop and the Bishops examined the current situation and were officially informed by the Ministry of Health in relation to the relevant developments.
Based on the new data, the meeting decided on the following:
- All Services for the Sanctification of the Waters on the feast day of the Epiphany in the States of New South Wales and Victoria, scheduled to take place in the respective harboursides, are cancelled. Following this, the celebratory lunches and all other festal functions that had been scheduled at the same venues after the service are also cancelled.
- For the the protection of both citizens and the clergy, the services for the cutting of the Vasilopita in Sydney (3 January), in Melbourne (2 January) and Northcote (3 January), at which all clergy, parish committees and members of the congregation would have been present, are cancelled. Instead of the common Service for the cutting of the Vasilopita, both the Archbishop and Bishops will conduct this service immediately after the Divine Liturgy of St Basil the Great on the first day of the new year at the holy Churches where they will liturgise.
- The National Clergy Assembly scheduled to take place in Sydney on the 18 of January 2022 is postponed.
- The official celebratory dinners which had been scheduled, on the occasion of the patronal feast day of the Archbisho on 16 January in Melbourne and 19 January in Sydney are cancelled.
The announcement continued with the Archbishop the Bishops urging the clergy and the people to be careful, as much as they can, and to observe the prescribed measures, so that they themselves do not become ill or be the cause for spreading the virus to others. Primarily, however, they urged people to pray and to exercise spiritually alertness.
“The phenomenon of the pandemic and the increase in cases confirms, for one more time, the weakness of humanity and the need for us to turn to God,” the official announcement said.
“At the same time, on the occasion of the beginning of the new year, His Eminence our Shepherd and their Graces wish all the faithful of the Holy Archdiocese that they have a happy and blessed new year for 2022. May God’s mercy preside over the world and redeem it from the current trial of the pandemic and from any other evil which afflicts the soul and body of every human person.”