A church in a Sydney coronavirus outbreak hotspot continues to give communion for each worshipper using the same spoon and one towel to clean their mouths.
During the COVID-19 crisis, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese is resisting pressure from some of its leaders to abandon action.
Worshippers have raised questions about a church’s poor protection procedures in the west of Sydney, an region that has been struck by a outbreak in cases in coronavirus in the last few weeks.
St Euphemia in Bankstown, a Greek Orthodox Church, gave Holy Communion in a way that clearly violates guidelines for places of worship issued by NSW Health.
After a large number of worshippers expressed concern regarding the practice.
“This is extremely concerning at these COVID times,” the email states.
“People will blindingly follow this tradition simply because of their sense of faith.”
The archbishop faced heavy criticism in March for failing to postpone communion and for reporting no chance of infection.
In an interview with The Greek Herald in March, the Archbishop said that “up until now in the history of our Church there have never been any cases where an epidemic of infectious disease has been transmitted through Holy Communion.”
He advised priests, however, not to offer their hand to be kissed during mass.
Eventually, after mounting pressure, the archbishop ordered all public masses to be suspended, but they have since largely resumed in most parts of Australia.
Many churches in the west of the city have recently been sources of COVID-19 outbreaks, spurring the authorities to introduce new measures.
All places of worship in NSW must sign a COVID-19 Safety Plan as of July 24 and adhere to guidance on public safety.
This includes a limit of no more than 100 worshippers, or one per four square metres excluding employees, whichever is the lesser.
NSW Health has urged religious bodies to “consider modifying religious rites or rituals to avoid direct contact, such as communion”.
In all instances, sharing cups or other objects during services should also be avoided, NSW Health has advised.