THE URGE OF HIS HOLINESS KAREKIN II, CATHOLICOS OF ALL ARMENIANS ON THE OCCASION OF THE CORONAVIRUS

Dear faithful,

We are following with concern and prayer the developments around the world with the Coronavirus. In these difficult times, when mankind is troubled by the pandemic, including Armenia, and our lives are disturbing as well, we urge with fatherly love our clergymen and faithful people to exercise extreme caution and avoid public contact and large crowds.

We urge everyone to act with high personal and public consciousness and responsibility, not only for ourselves, but also with care for one another, deeply understanding that the security of everyone’s life at this moment is also our personal responsibility. We trust in God we pray for the healing and spiritual strength of the infected and isolated. We extend our highest appreciation and blessing to our doctors who ceaselessly make the utmost effort in their service while operating in a state of emergency.

In consultation with the incumbents of the Hierarchical sees of our Church and discussing the situation with the bishops of Armenia today, we decided:

A. To schedule church service hours each day from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm for individual visits and private prayers for believers, as well as for Holy Communion and other urgent spiritual needs, for the period until Holy Thursday;

B. Conduct the celebrations of the Divine Liturgy behind closed doors, without the participation of faithful people, if possible, by streaming the celebrations online.

C. To cancel the order of Blessing of children on the feast of Palm Sunday, to perform the Andastan (Blessing of the Four Corners of the World) ceremony and blessing of tree branches without the presence of believers;

D. To cancel the order of Blessing of women awaiting the joy of motherhood on April 7, the Feast of the Annunciation of Blessed Virgin Mary,

E. Not to conduct ceremonies of Matrimony,

F. Perform the Sacrament of Baptism only in case of urgency (in case if the person to be baptized is ill),

G. In the case of funerals, only perform the Graveyard ceremony, urging the mourners to refrain from organizing crowded funerals and memorial gatherings for meal.

Instructing these decisions for implementation by the Church institutions, at the same time we announce upcoming Wednesday, March 18, a national day of prayer inviting everyone at 7:00 pm to join our clergy, in their private prayer from the place where they are, asking the Lord so that the world and our people may be able to overcome this tribulation with the spirit of unity and mutual support.

Beloved, in this difficult times, it is necessary, to unite and provide all the support to the Government of the Republic of Armenia and the relevant governmental bodies, to strictly follow all the instructions and requirements set by the authorities.

Together we will overcome also this challenge with public solidarity, civic and spiritual high responsibility and consciousness, and by the grace and mercy of our Lord. Life is a divine gift and is the most precious one. We need to care life by caring for one another with love. Now is the time to witness about our love and unity.

May the Lord’s blessing, grace, and mercy be with us and with all; Amen.