A senior Orthodox Church priest who participated in the prayers at the funeral of Serbian Patriarch Irinej on Sunday has tested positive for COVID-19, Serbia’s state TV said Monday, according to the Associated Press.
Serbian Patriarch Irinej was one of the two most senior Serbian Orthodox Church leaders — the patriarch and Bishop Amfilohije — who died within a month after testing positive with the coronavirus, reported the Associated Press. Bishop David is the latest among clergy to get the coronavirus, according to the Associated Press. (RELATED: Largest Catholic Church In North America Closes Doors For The First Time In Nearly 100 Years)
At the funeral of the patriarch at the St. Sava Temple in the Serbian capital, Belgrade, many mourners neglected their masks masks, kissed the glass shield that held the patriarch’s remains and used the same spoon during Holy Communion, according to the Associated Press.
“It is clear there will be new infections,” said Predrag Kon, of the government-appointed team fighting the virus’ spread, according to the Associated Press. “We will know this in a week.”
The Greek Orthodox Church has insisted using a spoon to administer Holy Communion will not transmit the coronavirus, according to the Associated Press.
The 62-year-old Metropolitan Bishop Ioannis of Lagadas, an outspoken advocate of administering communion during the pandemic, died of COVID-19, the Associated Press reported. The Holy Synod reprimanded critics who said the priest died due to Holy Communion, the Associated Press reported.
“Certain aspiring leaders of public opinion are insisting in a neurotic manner on concentrating exclusively on Holy Communion,” the Synod said in a statement, according to AP. “They cite unscientific correlations with the spread of the coronavirus, in defiance of epidemiological evidence.”
When police tried to interrupt and fine a church for hosting a service in a northern Greek village, the priest told parishioners, “you’re either with Christ or the coronavirus.”