We have been watching the news with concern as information is shared about the spread of the coronavirus. Here in the Diocese of Toronto, we remember well the SARS epidemic of 2003. Even if we personally did not know anyone who had contracted that disease, their families or caregivers, we were all affected by the feelings of heightened anxiety and vulnerability in the general public.
In response to that, the Church developed some protocols around due diligence, hygiene and liturgical practices. The “SARS Protocols” of the Diocese of Toronto are still available on our website:
- Liturgical practice and the risk of infection
- Protocols regarding the use and storage of the common cup and other interventions pertaining to the reduction of risk of transmission of contagion
While the current situation does not warrant extreme measures, it is still helpful to review them. Many of our parishioners have weakened or compromised immune systems, and it is important that they feel safe and cared for in our parishes, at all times.
I have personally consulted today with Toronto Public Health, and we will continue to heed their advice going forward. The Bishop’s Committee on Healing Ministries, chaired by the Rev. Canon Joanne Davies, Anglican chaplain at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, has been reviewing our current protocols and will make revisions if it becomes necessary. We will inform you immediately if we feel we need to adapt our usual practices.
At this time, we believe our call to action is to pray – for those infected and affected, for those in the medical and scientific fields who are combatting the virus, and for all those who may feel anxious – that the Great Physician himself, Jesus Christ, will bring strength, comfort and healing to all.
The Rt. Rev. Andrew Asbil
Bishop of Toronto