Coronavirus: Greek Orthodox Church in Aus allowing parishioners to share spoon
A spokesperson for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia said, "there is absolutely no possibility of contracting disease from the holy cup"
Amid the panic of Coronavirus, Australia’s Greek Orthodox church will carry on administering communion as normal – allowing parishioners to drink wine from the same spoon during mass.
During the ceremony, Greek Orthodox priests dip a spoon into a chalice of wine before placing it directly into worshippers’ mouths. The same spoon and chalice are used throughout.
Reverend Steven Scoutas, a spokesperson for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, has encouraged people displaying signs of illness to stay away from church services. However, he went on to tell ABC News, "Once we decide to go to church, we believe there is absolutely no possibility of contracting disease from the holy cup."
"We believe that no disease or illness can exist in holy communion, which we believe is the body and blood of Christ."
Weekend mass at some of Australia’s larger Greek Orthodox churches can attract hundreds of people – and numbers are set to rise in the lead-up to Greek Easter in April. That could mean thousands of parishioners receiving wine from the same spoon during Easter mass.
The Australian Medical Association criticised the church’s decision to continue administering communion as normal, saying parishioners, many of whom are elderly, will be put at risk of contracting Coronavirus.
Australia has already banned non-essential gatherings of over 500 people as Coronavirius continues to spread – meaning that churches with large amounts of parishioners may have to consider adding extra services to keep numbers down.
Around 1.5% of Australia’s population identifies as Greek Orthodox, 40% of whom are aged over 50.