Church services have been suspended, but Romania’s Orthodox believers will be able to celebrate Easter this weekend, after church leaders reached an agreement with the the government.
Under the agreement, church volunteers and interior ministry officials will distribute the Holy flame to believers on Easter night.
The fire originates from Jerusalem and is transported to Greece in a special container on the the day before Easter and then on to other nations in the Orthodox world including Romania.
Although church services in Romania were suspended in mid-March during the state of emergency to halt the spread of the new coronavirus, there have been demands to open churches for Easter in the highly religious country.
Calistrat Chifan, a popular ‘duhovnic’ or spiritual father, on Monday appealed to the government to allow ‘young and healthy’ worshipers to be able to attend the Easter Vigil at midnight services.
Some 87% of Romanians are Orthodox Christians and observe Easter this Sunday.
Bowing to the demands, Interior Minister Marcel Vela said late Tuesday that the government had agreed to the waiver to “provide spiritual relief to all those who are going through hard times.”
He said ministry officials would help church volunteers to distribute the light to hospitals and quarantine centers as well.
However, he stressed that rules of social distancing would be observed, including the ban of groups larger than three.
The Orthodox Church will also be allowed to distribute the bread blessed on Maundy Thursday on Friday and Saturday during the day in parishes and designated places.
Churches aided by volunteers will observe social distancing rules that exist in public places, such as supermarkets.
People will be allowed to go to the places where the bread is distributed and have to fill in and carry with them a statement in this regard.
Romania’s president Klaus Iohannis on Tuesday extended the state of emergency on Tuesday for another month.