Metropolitan Nicolae and the US canonical bishops: The faithful’s participation to religious services is essential for society

Metropolitan Nicolae and the fellow members of the Executive Committee of the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America (ACOB-USA) sent an appeal to several governors to insist on the equitable treatment of religion in the reopening of their states.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Metropolitan Nicolae of the Americas stood by the faithful and the priests’ families, offering them moral and, where needed, material support. He recommended organizing virtual meetings with the faithful’s children for Bible study, catechization and spiritual colloquia.

Despite partial reopening of businesses and commerce after the coronavirus pandemic, some state governors from the political left have kept the ban on the faithful’s participation to public worship, considering it as a service that us “non-essential for society.”

That is why the Romanian Orthodox Metropolitan Nicolae of the America and the other canonical hierarchs who are members of the ACOB-USA Executive Committee met in a videoconference to decide on how to claim the right to assembly guaranteed by the American Constitution.

The Committee redacted a message for the governors saying that the “founders of our country wisely protected the free exercise of religion precisely because of the vital role played by communities of faith in providing their members faith, hope, and comfort, and their communities love, service, and charitable outreach during times of trial such as these.”

The hierarchs emphasize in their message that “religious institutions provide for social and emotional cohesion, important rites of passage, and participation in the mysterium of human existence that expresses meaning and purpose, and are as vital to the common good as the reinitializing of the economic engines that provide the means of material life.”

ACOB-USA require that “religious institutions of all faiths be given the same consideration that those economic engines are being given, as guaranteed by the Constitution, and that our rights of assembly be commensurate with those of the businesses, associations, establishments, and other societal institutions that are engaged in reopening at this time.”

They conclude their message with assurances that “all recommended public health best practices, as well as all legal requirements that pertain to the containment of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Last week, president Donald Trump declared he will support the churches discriminated by some of the US governors who have claimed their services as “non-essential” for society in this period. Michael Farris, an expert in constitutional law and president of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), an organization defending religious freedom, confirmed that the President of the United States has the constitutional means to determine the states to respect an essential civil right: religious freedom.


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