TORONTO- On June 3, 2021, at the invitation of the Hon. Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario, His Eminence Archbishop Sotirios of Canada joined other religious leaders to discuss the importance of reopening places of worship. The Rev. Fr. P. Avgeropoulos also participated.
A number of government ministers and senior officials participated, including the Hon. Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health; the Hon. Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development; Mr. Will Bouma, Parliamentary Assistant to the Premier; and, Dr. David Williams, Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.
During the virtual meeting, Premier Ford reiterated his appreciation to faith leaders for their work to support local communities, especially during the many challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
When asked to provide feedback, Archbishop Sotirios focused on two key points. He thanked the Premier and government representatives for making best efforts to balance public health restrictions and the need to allow places of worship to open. His Eminence also emphasized that the faithful need the services for their spiritual, emotional, and mental wellbeing: “Let us all work together so that we will give the faithful what they need,” Archbishop Sotirios said.
Premier Ford and Dr. Williams announced that from June 14 places of worship will be open to 15 per cent capacity and soon thereafter to 25 and 50 per cent capacity. Archbishop Sotirios and the other faith leaders asked the Premier to begin the 15 per cent capacity two days earlier, Saturday, June 12, which they promised to consider.
The Archdiocese has and will continue to work with government partners and all faith communities to ensure places of worship can open and operate in a safe and respectful manner.