New York.- Commentary by Apostolos Zoupaniotis
In a message forwarded to Greek News, by a parishioner in Chicago, Amelia Bartholomew, MD, MPH, FACS, Chief, Translational Research Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago, appears to forward a message trying to mobilize.
The message, entitled “letter to the bishop and archbishop”, signed by Dr. Bartholomew states the following:
“Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
The World Health Organization has come out with new guidelines which should be supportive of reopening the churches. Could you kindly review this letter and comment? If you believe that it has merit, please send a copy of it or whatever you feel to Bishop Nathaniel and Archbishop Elpidophorus and send to other medical professionals who may agree with this position that can also echo its sentiments in support of opening the churches. Thank you for your time in reviewing this letter”.
Mentioning a World Health Organization report on March 29, 2020, on the transmission of the virus, she claims that “this finding has refuted a simulation study in which airborne jets infused air with aerosolized virus suggesting the virus could persist airborne for three hours. These data demonstrate airborne COVID-19 will not persist in a church during services”.
She then goes saying:
“Since our faith unequivocally holds true that the body and blood of Christ is incorrupt and can never serve to transmit disease, but instead strengthens the health of our souls and bodies, one would conclude that in these difficult times, communion is necessary and required to heal our souls and bodies in this difficult time. To deny access to salvific Christ in response to this pestilence is to deny Christ Himself.”
He recommendations for allowance of communion and church, are the following:
1. Allow church services to occur on a voluntary basis by priests who are willing to do so
2. Televise church services to a congregation that can wait outdoors for communion, thereby limiting the number of surfaces touched by asymptomatic individuals who might transmit the infection
3. Allow communion in groups of 10 at a time, with instructions of individuals to refrain from touching pews or other hard surfaces that could serve to transmit virus.
4. Plan a means of egress for individuals who are receiving so that they do not pass by those waiting to receive of a distance of 6 feet apart
5. Complete cleaning of the church pews and other surface areas touched by public following liturgy with dilute solution of bleach.
The author of this letter does not appear to function by logic and scientific method and in spite her credentials it sounds like an outrageous attack against science and common sense.
She proposes a course that is dangerous to public health and safety, which is banned and should remain banned until the epidemic subsides.
She claims to present the scientific data in this memo, and then we read the paragraph that the Holy Communion strengthens the health of our souls and bodies. But, the author hides the fact that receiving communion requires close contact and also sharing utensils to receive bread and wine that symbolizes the body and blood of Christ. Therefore, it defeats the rules that the author pretends to impose in adherence with the demands of public health and safety.
At least 35 people attending a funeral in Hicksville were infected, on March 15, while 8 people attending an ordination of a priest by Archbishop Elpidophoros in Brooklyn got sick, one of them in very critical condition. Therefore, such practices should continue to be banned by the authorities and it is the obligation of the church to obey the authorities and protect public health.
Religious persons are entitled to keep their beliefs,no matter how outrageous they appear to others, provided they do not damage others and the society. For example, are we going to allow a religion that requires human sacrifice in our society? Of course not, because their religious freedom infringes on the human rights of the person to be sacrificed.
We have to simply remind such people that they are entitled to their beliefs as long as they do not harm public health and safety. If they do, they will have to face the law.”