Communique of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church
On the third week of Great Lent (Sunday of the Veneration of the Holy Cross) the Divine Liturgy was served in all churches of the Serbian Orthodox Church, in compliance with all instructions being required for protection from the COVID-19 virus (no more than five people inside the church, the faithful standing in front and on the side of the church to practice social distancing, etc.). However, uninvited guests from well-known anti-church and anti-Serbian circles appeared, and as a result their media and the media partial to them began an orchestrated and slanderous chase against the Serbian Orthodox Church.
Those concerned citizens (unfortunately, we cannot say concerned gentlemen) accuse us, namely, that we are communing the faithful from the same Chalice, in the traditional manner practiced for already two thousand years. They declare it a violation of the binding instructions of the state authorities, which is a pure lie, since the state does not deal with, nor can it deal with the content and manner of conducting the Divine Liturgy and other church services. That is the sole matter of internal or autonomous church order and legislation, which the state accepts as valid, legitimate and legal in the sphere of public law.
After all, no one is being forced to take Communion but receives it voluntarily. The expectation of those who neither come to church nor partake of Holy Communion, is both unreasonable and utterly malicious that the Church itself would deny to its believers that which they deem most important and sacred – Holy Communion. Once again we appeal to all the faithful to consistently and responsibly apply all the measures prescribed during this difficult period, especially that they enter the holy churches for prayer and blessing individually or in groups of up to five, during services in larger churches the faithful are to congregate in several permitted groups, practicing social distancing as much as possible between them, and also when following the service outdoors, under the open sky, to not gather in groups greater than the permitted number and distance themselves from one another within each group and between groups.
From the Office of the Holy Synod of Bishops