Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Our world is currently experiencing a time of crisis and emergency, whereas many countries and nations are combatting the spread of COVID-19. In many places around the globe, the infection is spreading rapidly and the victims are consistently increasing. The World Health Organization has declared the situation as a global pandemic.
In front of this dangerous situation, governments worldwide mobilized to resist and restrain the spread of this virus. In many places severe measures were adopted which resulted in restrictions of movement of persons maintaining operative only crucial facilities.
This dangerous situation has not passed over the Holy Land and the Holy City of Jerusalem in which all Sons of Abraham Jews, Christians and Muslims are raising their prayers to God Almighty. We are called to live this time in faith and confidence in the Lord’s mercy and His care for all His creatures.
At the same time, we are called to adhere to the instructions of the competent civil authorities enacted to ensure the safety and well-being of the entire population.
Therefore, we the Heads of the Churches in charge of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem urge everyone to abide fully by the provisions for the public health, as they are published from time to time.
The communities living within the Church of the Holy Sepulchre will continue the ordinary life of the Church in conformity with the instructions for the public health. We will be united spiritually in our aim to preserve the centuries’ long tradition of ongoing prayers in the Church even in these sad times when pilgrims cannot reach Jerusalem and local faithful are compelled to remain at their homes.
Accordingly, while maintaining the Church open we urge the worshipers to:
- Refrain from any gatherings of more than 10 people in the same place and at the same time in the Basilica.
- Keep a minimal distance of 2 meters between each person.
- Avoid any act of devotion that might include physical contact such as touching and kissing the stones, touching icons, vestments and the personnel in the Basilica.
- To abide always by the instructions of the authorities.
The Holy Sepulchre is the ultimate place of hope. Hope that faith will defeat doubt, light will defeat darkness and life will triumph over death. From this Holy Place and in this time of spiritual preparation for Easter and of global crisis we join our prayers to those of faithful of all religions, asking for the end of this pandemic. We pray for all those afflicted by the virus around the world and express our sympathy and gratitude to those who assist and take care of the victims.
Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem
Custos of the Holy Land
ARCH. NOURHAN MANOUGIAN
Armenian Patriarch of Jerusalem