RNA - Church services from Moscow to Rio go ahead as clerics disregard the coronavirus risk and insist on keeping the church doors open, The Guardian reported Monday.
Sunday services were held at some of Russia’s largest religious sites after Orthodox church leaders said they were an expression of religious freedom.
Dozens of parishioners, many of them elderly, crowded into Kazan Cathedral in St Petersburg to receive communion. Earlier this month, the cathedral came under fire for continuing to exhibit a relic of John the Baptist despite fears that visitors kissing the exhibit could hasten the spread of coronavirus.
In Romania and Georgia, two countries with strongly Orthodox Christian populations, there has been consternation over the insistence of some priests on continuing to use a shared spoon for the communion ritual.
In virus-hit Louisiana, hundreds of worshippers attended services on Sunday, flouting a ban on large gatherings. An estimated 500 people of all ages filed inside the Life Tabernacle church in Central, a city of nearly 29,000 outside Baton Rouge.
The Russian Orthodox church had insisted that mayors could not close churches and that it would continue to “fulfil its pastoral duty” unless given an order from the Kremlin.
However, later on Sunday the church’s leader, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, called on believers to refrain from visiting churches.
The Sunday services were held a day after Pope Francis delivered a blessing in an empty St Peter’s Square, watched on television by an estimated 11 million people.
Millions of other people across the world tuned into online church services on Sunday as their usual places of worship were closed over the COVID-19 outbreak.
In devoutly Catholic Poland, coronavirus restrictions limited the number of churchgoers to 50 at a time, and this was reduced again last week to five.
The Vatican said at the weekend that Pope Francis did not have coronavirus after testing of Holy See staff resulted in one new case. The total number of people with Covid-19 at the Vatican is now six. “I can confirm that neither the Holy Father nor his closest collaborators are involved,” a spokesperson said.