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World

Archbishop Sotirios of Canada to TNH: “We Will Not Allow Anyone to Go Hungry”

May 5, 2020
By Theodore Kalmoukos

BOSTON – His Eminence Archbishop Sotirios of Canada in a telephone interview with The National Herald regarding the coronavirus in Canada gave assurances that “we will not allow anyone to go hungry.” 

Despite the fact that Canada has excellent social programs that help people in need the Archbishop emphasized that “our Holy Archdiocese helps those in need through its Social Services and the Philoptochos Ladies Societies.”

All ecclesiastical programs and activities have been canceled including the ordinations to the episcopacy of the three elected auxiliary bishops as well as the graduation ceremony of the Patriarchal Theological Academy, which has been rescheduled for some time in October.

The entire interview has follows:

The National Herald: Your Eminence, please describe the current climate which prevails in Toronto and Canada regarding the COVID-19 pandemic?

Archbishop Sotirios: The prevailing climate is one of uneasiness, despite the draconian measures that Canada has undertaken, the relatively low number of cases, and the even lower number of victims. People are worried, because they see that the problem will not end soon and more problems will arise. The fact that the faithful weren’t able to participate in the Services of Holy Week and Easter, obviously was painful for everyone. Under the guidance of our Holy Archdiocese Christians are turning their homes into “churches at home”.

TNH: Are there any cases or victims among the faithful of the communities of the Archdiocese or among clergy?

Archbishop Sotirios: As far as we know we do not have any deaths. There are cases of infection in one community, including its priest. All of them are mild cases, except one, but we are certain that he too will recover.

TNH: How is the Greek Canadian Community in Canada responding to the pandemic?

Archbishop Sotirios: The Greek Canadian Community is responding to the situation with uneasiness of course but also with faith in God and the hope, that this will soon pass.

TNH:  How does the Archdiocese help the affected people?

Archbishop Sotirios: Canada is a country which possesses great social sensitivity. Canada has created economic programs which help everyone who is facing financial difficulties, without exception. The assistance thus far has been plenty and good. Our Holy Archdiocese helps those in need through its Social Services and the Philoptochos Ladies Societies. We will not allow anyone to go hungry.

TNH:  How did Archdiocese and the parishes  deal with Holy Week and Easter?

Archbishop Sotirios: This was a huge problem, first spiritually and then financially. Spiritually we dealt with it by conducting the Holy services and Divine Liturgies at all the churches without exception, with the priest, chanter, and sexton. Most of our churches broadcast the services and the Divine Liturgy through Social Media. This was so much better than watching them on television. When Christians see their own church and their own priest, they feel much better and they pray in the prayer corner of their house. Of course, it is not the same, but this too will pass. The financial problem is enormous. We asked our clergy to send letters, not only to the members of their church but also to all those families who during the last ten years have had baptisms, weddings, or funerals. But this requires a great deal of work. These times demand that we all work harder. I hope that all pious Christians understand the problem and will help.

TNH: Will there be a graduation ceremony for the Theological Academy this year?

Archbishop Sotirios: Our Patriarchal Orthodox Theological Academy every year holds its annual Graduation Ceremony around May 8, when the chapel of St. John the Theologian, Patron Saint of our Theological Academy, celebrates its feast day. This year, classes continue as normal through the internet. The Graduation Ceremony will not be held in May but we are thinking to plan it for some time in October.

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