Divine Services will be held without parishioners at churches and monasteries in Moscow and its region from April 13 to 19, in accordance with the order of the Moscow sanitary authorities and with the blessing of His Holiness Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, due to the spread of the coronavirus infection.
According to the Circular Letter of the First Patriarchal Vicar in Moscow, Metropolitan Dionysius Voskresensky of April 11, 2020, the chief sanitary doctor for Moscow, Elena Andreeva, sent instructions to the Moscow Administration of the Moscow Patriarchate on April 11, 2020. In particular, the instructions include the following requirement:
“To ensure temporary suspension of visits by citizens to territories, buildings, structures and its premises, owned and (or) subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate Administration for the city of Moscow, with the exception of clergymen, as well as people whose presence is necessary for officiating divine services and the functioning of religious buildings, as well as for online broadcasting of services.”
In this regard, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill gave his blessing to Moscow and the Moscow Region “to fulfill the instructions of the chief sanitary doctor in the city of Moscow and within the deadlines set by her (from April 13, 2020 to April 19, 2020 with a possible extension of time – ed.) to perform services only with the participation of the clergy of the church, as well as employees and volunteers whose presence is necessary.”
The priests of the churches should inform their parishioners and “console them with their fatherly words” at the end of the Liturgy on the feast day of the Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem on Sunday, April 12.
Believers are encouraged to continue to pray at home, joining the television broadcasts of the Patriarchal services on Spas and Soyuz television channels, as well as video broadcasts of parish and monastery services, or using the guidelines for home services published on the official website of the Russian Orthodox Church.
The letter emphasizes that the clergy should explain to the parishioners that the temporary restrictions on visiting a church “do not deprive them of the opportunity to partake day after day of the great events of the Passions and Resurrection of our Lord through reading the Holy Scriptures, participating in divine services, which are broadcast live, and through home reading of liturgical texts.”