Greek Orthodox Priest Doubles Down On Decision For Parishioners To Drink Wine From Same Spoon

A spokesperson for the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia, has confirmed the Church is continuing to serve wine from "the holy cup" as part of communion during mass.

In response to coronavirus precautionary measures, Father Steven Scoutas told the ABC early Saturday that Greek Orthodox churchgoers can sip holy wine from the same spoon during the Eucharist.

"We believe that no disease or illness can exist in holy communion, which we believe is the body and blood of Christ," Scoutas said.

On Saturday afternoon the priest doubled down on his remarks, telling 10 daily: "My comments reflect the teaching of the Orthodox church."

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The Greek Orthodox priest also told the ABC anyone showing signs of illness was discouraged from attending mass.

"But once we decide to go to church, we believe there is absolutely no possibility of contracting disease from the holy cup," Scoutas added.

Scoutas told 10 daily that His Eminence Archbishop Makarios, the head of the Greek Orthodox Church in Australia, had returned home from an overseas trip on Friday and was expected to make a public statement on Sunday.

Australian Medical Association associate professor Julian Rait told the ABC the move by the church put parishioners, especially the elderly, at risk.

Stock photo of a Greek Orthodox boy receiving the Eucharist during mass. Image: Godong/Universal Images Group via Getty

"I would doubt very much their faith would provide the protection they believe," Rait said.

On Thursday, Bishop Donald Sproxton announced a number of temporary precautions aimed at stopping the spread of the coronavirus would be put in place throughout Perth's Catholic parishes.

These measures include the removal of holy water, communion wafers being administered in the hand and not on the tongue, a ban on drinking from the chalice and sign-of-the-peace handshakes omitted.

"All priests and extraordinary ministers of holy communion are to wash their hands in soap and water or are to use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser both immediately before and immediately after the distribution of holy communion," Bishop Donald Sproxton said in a statement.

"Parishioners who feel unwell should not attend mass and are excused from their normal obligation."

In an unprecedented move, Rome's Catholic churches were ordered to close on Thursday because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The decree by Cardinal Angelo De Donatis -- Pope Francis’ vicar for the Rome archdiocese -- will remain in effect until at least April 3.