Romanians not allowed to attend church at Easter
Churchgoers in Romania were to be able to pick up blessed bread outside churches for Orthodox Easter, despite the coronavirus. Now Interior Minister Vela has backpedalled in the wake of harsh criticism. Instead the bread and "holy fire" are to be brought to people's homes on request. For the press this is the only sensible decision, despite the importance attached to Easter in Romania.
Jesus would tell you to stay at home
In Newsweek Romania, editor-in-chief Răzvan Chiruţă urges people to stay at home:
“Be smart, Jesus will love you more if you don't put yourself or your loved ones in danger. I can't understand why people in a pillaged country like ours are not afraid at the prospect of ending up in hospital. Not because of Covid, but because the state hospitals were hotbeds of infection even before the pandemic. I don't know what the chances are of being infected on the Night of the Resurrection. But I will stay at home, because the idea of being admitted to a Romanian hospital right now terrifies me. I'm sure Jesus will understand me.”
Maintaining the celebration's symbolic power
The plan for volunteers and church staff wearing protective clothing to hand out communion bread and the 'Holy Fire' through windows is an important symbolic act, says Libertatea:
“Even for the less faithful among us, the intimate connection experienced during the midnight prayer at the local church, where one can greet neighbours, embrace friends and ignore one's enemy, has great symbolic power: the power of belonging to a group. Of being part of a celebration. People who do not go to church on any other day of the year do so with great joy on the Night of the Resurrection. It's like a duty to oneself and to the community; like a reconciliation, a celebration of life, which is essentially what the resurrection is about. It is hope. All the more so in these dark times we're going through. You can't take people's hope away. But you can give them more.”