Damascus, Nineveh Plain – With the outbreak of the Coronavirus and the virus reaching many of Syria’s surrounding countries, the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate in Damascus issued a series of guidelines regarding church rituals during the Holy Sepulcher to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus among believers. It also launched an awareness campaign in the Nineveh Plain in Iraq by educating the Syriac faithful on best prevention practices.
The Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate’s statement read:
The outbreak of Coronavirus caused many church members to raise questions about church practices during Holy Mass and spiritual gatherings, so we saw need for the following guidelines:
1. Keep churches open to all believers, taking due care of providing sterilization packages, avoiding touching people, icons and the Holy Bible. Those who show symptoms must stay at home and invite the priest to pray for him or her and hand him or her the Holy Eucharist at home;
2. Replace the manual peace exchange by curving the head or placing one’s hand on the chest;
3. Replace kissing the bishop’s cross or the priest’s hand by curving the head in front of them;
4. With regard to the handling of the Holy Eucharist, we recommend that to receive the Holy Offering, which is an ancient custom in our church, where the believer who stands in front of the priest puts his or her right hand over his or her left palm in the form of a cross. The priest places the Holy Offering in the hands of the believer who takes it directly in front of the priest.
In the Nineveh Plain area of Iraq, the awareness campaign for prevention of Coronavirus has been launched in both Hamdaniya and Talkiv districts – under auspices of the Together Peace Project, which is one of the projects of the Italian organization UPP.
Four teams went to areas in the Nineveh Plain where they distributed brochures and posters to the people, explaining them the different preventive methods to reduce the spread of Corona, the need to wash hands, stay away from crowded places and cook animal products very well.