Fr. Ioannis Drongitis on Covidism

If you are in Fr. Demetrios Carellas’ email group, you will have noticed a four-part presentation of interviews by Fr. Ioannis Drongitis from October 3rd to October 7th. These reveal, to the English-speaking world, this priest who was not known before but we now hear boldly and “as one having authority” (cf. Matthew 7:29) confessing the truth of the spiritual matters on which many bishops and priests remain absent, even though this is the definitive spiritual battle of these days. Below you will read comments from those emails from Papa Demetri that introduces each part of the interview and then the transcript from the interview. At the end of the article, we offer you a small biography about Fr. Ioannis. To receive the spiritual nourishment of Papa Demetri’s daily emails, subscribe here.

BIOGRAPHY: Fr. John Drongitis draws his descent from the village of Banato on Zakynthos Island, Greece. As of 2010, he is the rector of the small chapel of St. Demetrius in Plaka, Athens (near the Acropolis), where he serves the Divine Liturgy every morning at dawn. He is the spiritual father of the women’s monastery of Sts. Theodores, Aroania, Greece. He was one of eight priests who, in 2014, sent a letter to the archbishop of Athens regarding the “pride parades” and proposed an Orthodox response including special vigils, prayer, catechism, and the preaching of repentance. Fr. Ioannis is a married priest. Below is the interview. Read it. Study his words. The confession he offers to the world through these interviews is sufficient to arm every Orthodox Christian to do battle against the social pressures in the fight to remain faithful to the Lord and resist the demons today with their new temptations.

Watch the four parts on YouTube (turn on closed captioning in video settings to follow english subtitles):

Part I | Part II | Part III | Part IV

—From the Editor.

Father Ioannis Drongitis answers the questions posed by Justino Carneiro concerning the theology of the Orthodox Church with regard to the current epidemic and the imputations of scientism and of the worldly spirit.

Part I: Unspoiled theology or theology of infection?

PAPA DEMETRIOS CARELLAS: In the beginning [of Part I], we see that Fr. Ioannis places God above all in his life. He notes that his meeting with the small group of Portuguese faithful was totally unplanned, and that it was definitely the providence of God that brought them together... Pay extra careful attention as to how Fr. Ioannis describes the great mystery of the Divine Liturgy... Say a small prayer to the Lord Jesus—begging Him to open your heart to the “guidance and strength” that God has provided for us through His servant, who has been “unknown and hidden” during this turbulent time in our Church.

JUSTINO CARNEIRO: Father Ioannis, in order to clarify some doubts of the Portuguese Orthodox community, I would like to ask you some questions. In general, we intend to know what is the theological position of the Orthodox Church with regard to infectious diseases. First of all, can infectious diseases be transmitted inside of an Orthodox temple by way of the liturgical implements, the Holy Icons, the Sacred Relics, and by the contact or proximity of the faithful between each other? Are sanitary measures necessary inside the temple in order to prevent contagion? Are distancing and the use of masks, for instance, acceptable measures?

Introductory Remarks

FR. IOANNIS DRONGITIS: To begin with, apart from any worldly politeness, I have to tell you that I am really glad for both speaking with you now and mostly because I know that this is addressed to the Portuguese brothers, with whom we have met without having planned it. We have created somehow a synaxis and we speak, we communicate and we share in the teachings of the Saints, without having planned it, without this having been preceded by any missionary work on paper. And this is the most beautiful thing, that God has formed this. Clearly. And we are greatly moved, at least I am, but also other people, of whom I hear, they are also moved. Because when God constitutes something, it is like the liturgical synaxis. This is God’s activity. To meet with each other, to speak about these things is His own initiative. As it happens in the Liturgy, the same thing happens in this case; this happens by God’s initiative. And our meeting is happening by God’s initiative, too. And for this I have the certainty and I say it not because I’m relying on my own perspective, but on the judgement (which is the theological notion) and blessing of my Elder who sealed this conversation; and through his judgement we have this assurance. This is the first thing I have to tell you.

The second is that all these things that you mention in the first question are too many. For sure we cannot fully cover them. I also agree that what we seek today is the theology of these matters since the theology is either silenced or misused. And I think that we don’t need to discover anything since everything has been said by the Saints. We just have to enter this reservoir, and above all enter the liturgical body, and there accept the words which are alive in the liturgical body. All the words, the theological ones, exist within the liturgical body, within the Liturgy, in the services of the Church, exist in the ecclesiastical life, and are being uttered.

And for us, what is needed is to become receptive; and we become receptive either because God wants it this way, even if we are unclean, as in this case, or because the first grace has preceded, which is called purifying grace, as our Saints say and as Saint Joseph the New says: purifying grace comes first and then divine knowledge comes. Therefore, what we have to do is to accept these words in whichever way they have come to us and to utter them and for them to be uttered in the Church because many times worldly words and worldly manners enter the Church, mostly worldly methodology, and by these we speak. And when we speak like this then we miss our goal and may God protect us from missing our goal, neither now nor ever.

The Liturgy is Whole and is a Mystery.

So, entering a bit the question I will tell you that in order to answer it, it would be enough for us to have faith, simple faith outside of gnoseological conditions. This would be enough and it is enough, for those who have sure faith this is enough. This doesn’t exclude the necessity of formulations. It just happens the same thing as with the New Testament. The formulation exists and is necessary in order for the counterfeits of experience and of faith not to happen. Or for us to give a testimony of the life of the Church. From this point of view, I will tell you that for us to enter our subject we will look at what is happening with man. We will start from anthropology with one proposition, let’s say. We know that man is neither body alone nor soul alone. As the Patristic word says, man is the “complex of both.” So, reckoned as the complex of both, he always remains united. It is not divided, only temporarily with death. But again it will be united, the mystery remains a mystery of unity.

So, the same happens with the Divine Liturgy. The Divine Liturgy is this complex, it is the liturgy of the whole body and this body is held together in Christ, on Christ. Christ is the head of the body, He Himself operates the joining together and the Holy Spirit is the life within this body, His energies are all those sanctifying energies which accomplish the incorporation of the members into the body, that is to say, of the people, the faithful within this body. Thus, the Liturgy is the mystery of the body and this body is not divided. It is the whole.

And the divine Eucharist is a liturgical event, a liturgical action, a sacramental action of the body. We do not have superior or inferior states in the Liturgy. We do not have divisions. To begin with, no difference exists between the liturgical action of sanctification from above and the whole liturgy. We do not have, accordingly, a crowding at any moment. We have a synaxis. We have the synaxis: the manifestation and the incorporation with gradations, degrees of ascent, successive entrances into the mystery, with charismatic states, with consecutive ascents, degrees and successive grades of incorporation into the body. These happen. What to say? We are unable to speak about the Mystery, really. What happens in the Divine Liturgy, we are unable to “catch up to it,” throughout our entire life. We often say this as ministers because we understand that it is difficult to live integrally the whole Liturgy.

Only as much as God wills it can someone live this experience. Nonetheless, we do know that these exist, these ascents, degrees and grades of incorporation. And this happens. So we cannot say that the conjoining of the body in the Divine Liturgy or in worship (which is something different, but a mystery of the body as well), can be considered a crowding (like it was with the “crowding” at Asia Minor, as it is said, of the Greeks at Smyrna, where they crowded; or, I don't know, at a supermarket; or at Ermou where they go for shopping at Monastiraki here in Athens). So it cannot be considered as something like this, of course. It is a mystery. Neither can we isolate the moment of the change of the Holy Gifts from the Liturgy of the body [i.e., our physical presence, along with those of the other faithful, in the service of the Divine Liturgy]. The whole synaxis walks towards the communion of the Holy Gifts; but this is a Liturgy, it is a mystagogy of all the body. It is a mystery considered as a whole. It has as its center the reception of the Holy Gifts, for those that are able to commune; but we all move in that direction, the movements of all the body; no distinction is considered.

So surely we cannot say that somebody may get “infected,” or get a virus in the Divine Liturgy because evidently this means that somebody can also get a virus at the moment of partaking in the Holy Gifts. This is not only rationally out of place but it is sacramentally and theologically nonsensical, something that should not even be discussed. It is the mystery of the body. It is the mystery of the incorporation of all in Christ, which can have a higher point of incorporation during the moment of Communion, but the whole conjoining is sacramental, it is a manifestation, it is the testimony each time of the incorporation in the body of Christ. This is what is being manifested in the Liturgy for all of us, and many other things, of course, that we do not have the time to speak now. Not to extend ourselves too much we will stop at this point. Therefore, it is completely out of place to speak about infection in the Divine Liturgy.

We need to experience the Divine Liturgy.

We can understand this from a political view, from a rationalistic view, that is to say, the way one thinks in these domains, but it is not even permissible to debate theologically about this, because this means: firstly that we have complete lack of faith in the facts, and [secondly] that we do not have any existential participation in the Divine Liturgy.

The Church, being an icon, makes infection impossible.

Also if we as priests say this [infection can occur during the Liturgy], we demonstrate our estrangement from the ecclesiastical body. We have a serious form of clericalism in the Church if we think something like this. Why? Because evidently we consider that we perform the Mystery alone, that we do it somehow secretly ourselves. We may close the Beautiful Gate but this is only a function and a symbol, essential of course, a realistic symbol of the supernatural events at that specific moment, which are not absent from the rest of the Divine Liturgy. We have nonetheless a greater descent of God, a more specific appearance of the divine energies at the moment of the change of the Holy Gifts. So this is symbolized, it is iconized, the way we understand “icon” to mean in the Divine Liturgy, by the closing of the gates. Still the mystery is accomplished either way.

We have the presence of the Holy Spirit Who Himself energizes and holds together the whole institution of the Church. Right? He holds it together, joins the body together and He is present and acts. We have saints and also those who are not saints yet and have experienced the presence and the appearance of the grace of the Holy Spirit, of His graces, we should say, of the energies; because it is not only one, of the Holy Spirit, not only in the Liturgy, but also in Matins and in all of these preparations we have for the Divine Liturgy. We have serious experiences from the saints on this issue and from simple priests who have experienced these things. Therefore, it is—I was going to say blasphemous any approach such as this—it is unthinkable at the moment the body of Christ is being formed, the Church, to have an infection. Do you understand?

It is like we say—we say it to Panagia: “In thee, O pure Virgin, have the laws of nature been overcome.” The laws of nature are overcome within the Church too. This is the icon, through the Theotokos. Therefore, it is completely out of place to say something like this. It is out of place and we can explain it in many ways. It is out of place because of the following. What happens in the Divine Liturgy? We speak about the incarnation of the Logos, about a continuous incarnation of the Logos through the Divine Liturgy; and in this incarnation the faithful are called to participate. The Church is not a society, because sometime our words show this in the Church (that we are a society that sings some songs, some psalms, we get happy, psychologically, we have our own psychological experiences) but this does not have any relationship with the Church which is the greatest mystery in the world. The highest peak of the world is the Divine Liturgy. We cannot speak this language; it is completely outside of the experience of the Church something like this. What happens then?

What happens is that all these participants are identified with the body of Christ, above all: those who commune; but through the uncreated energies, the body is manifested also for those people that are, under obedience, outside of the reception of the Holy Gifts. They have also other grades of communion and another form of communion with the Logos. We have, thus, this identification, if this term is permissible, between the very body and blood of Christ, and the Church. We have this communion, this incorporation. The Church is this body; it is the body of Christ. When I commune of the body of Christ, I commune of Christ Himself, of His deified human nature. Not only do I commune with Christ and then I leave, I am also united to the Church. My union is ontological, it is real and realistic at the same time. It is not a “symbol.” I am united to Christ, which means that I am united to the Church. This is His body. I partake of the body and blood of Christ, meaning that I partake of Christ Himself and of His body simultaneously.

Do you understand how blind it is to say that when I partake I do not commune [of the Lord’s body and blood] and when I am with the body [i.e., my body] I get sick? An issue like this is never raised. It is completely non-theological. It is like we do not believe at all in our saints, not only in their experiences, but also in their teachings: Saint Maximos and all the big saints like Saint Dionysios the Areopagite, Saint John of Kronstadt, in all the saints that spoke about this, Saint Nicholas Planas and all similar saints. Therefore, it cannot be conceived something like this. And why can it not be conceived?

Corrupt nature is overcome, not done away, in the Liturgy.

Let’s take it a bit further. Where are the microbes? What do we have in the Liturgy? What happens there? Do the microbes go away, which means that nature goes away too? Don’t we go with our nature? Doesn’t our nature in its integrity participate in the Divine Liturgy? This would be heretical. So in the Liturgy we have a concelebration, a crucified encounter and a crucified doxological exclamation, a co-Liturgy of the natural and the supernatural, the rational and the superrational, the human and the divine, the created and the uncreated. We have this co-Liturgy and in this co-Liturgy we cannot say that nature is absent. Wherever nature exists, it exists as it is. So do microbes exist in Divine Liturgy? To put it better, do microbes exist inside the temple? On the icons? On the liturgical implements? On the priest? On the faithful? Everywhere? All of this is natural and everything else is natural as well. What happens in this case? Does nature depart and go away? No, of course. Nature does not leave from the Liturgy. It is present there. Accordingly, do the microbes leave from the temple? No, they do not. And illnesses? Illnesses are also there. We bear the illnesses on us. But what happens?

Due to this blending, to this degree of incorporation in the body of Christ, due to this union of the body and the manifestation, the eschatological manifestation of the body: we say that the Divine Liturgy is the eschatological manifestation, the manifestation of the eschaton in the present, in the created world (on the level of the created). So the microbes remain, nature remains. But what happens? They are inactive. They are limits of nature which are conquered. They remain inactive, their energy will return when we leave, when the degree of incorporation changes, because everything happens on the created level and it remains. But we have a peak of this incorporation in the Divine Liturgy.

We have a manifestation of the eschatological incorporation. We have so many mysteries. Where the mystery is ministered (the Church), as Saint Maximos says: there is the holy bridal bed, in which the soul and God become one. In this blessed and purest bridal bed, we have this divine coupling between soul and God, between man and God. So we have the body which is united in an unknown and immaculate way. This, then, is what happens there. Nature does not depart. It is also present, but it is inactive. It is like time. We say that we take time. This does not mean that time stops existing for us. It means that it is overcome. In the same way, nature is overcome on the level of corruption. In the sense of transmission of infections, this is something completely out of place.

Let’s say that we serve the Liturgy and an evildoer enters the Altar and on the Holy Table where the Holy Gifts are placed. He pours, let’s say, an infectious liquid. I don’t dare to speak about something like this. As we say in the demotic expression, “he tries to dirty the divine things” and so he throws something entirely out of place. Or let’s say I am not careful and I serve the Liturgy with moldy bread. Or, like Saint Nicholas Planas did, I use poison instead of wine. What will happen? Will this stop being a poison? Will the mold be absorbed [i.e., and abolished] by the divine energy? This is heretical. The mold will stay there but it will be completely inactive. We have many examples, not only, but you told me to speak theologically so now let’s not mention the examples from the saints, we will speak theologically. Thus, corruption will remain, but the elements of corruption will remain inactive. Which Orthodox person can say that a moldy bread after the change can cause, let’s say, stomach problems? Which Orthodox person can say that this cannot be the body and blood of Christ because it bears this process of corruption in it? That we did not notice. Or when this criminal activity I mentioned takes place, that these stop being the body and blood of Christ? With whatever human way of infection, will this not remain the body and blood of Christ as it is? Will it not convey life and incorruptibility? Do we not say this?

What wrongful assumptions are behind questions such as infection in the Church?

So I believe that in these questions and in these opinions there is an intensely heretical element. There is Docetism. There are elements that annul the decisions of the Fourth Ecumenical Council. There is a form of Iconoclasm (in reality: not only on the level of the veneration of the icons—I speak about the Divine Liturgy as an icon of the eschaton). The icon is a major matter for the Church. So then, as I told you, many issues are raised here. Let’s say as it happens with the body of Christ. What is the body of Christ? Christ, what is He? He is a divine-human person, we say, one hypostasis. He is God and man: two perfect natures in one person. Two natures each one with its own will. Each nature has its own will and energy. And we have the exchange of properties in the person of Christ. This also happens with His body. As it happens with His very own body, it happens with the body of the Church, when this is manifested in its eschatological fulfillment. Do you understand what it means when we speak about infection? This is as if we say (God forbid): “Who is infected?” The body of Christ is infected? The faithful are the body of Christ. This is His sacramental body and this unity, as Saint Maximos says, is a “unity conceived in trinity,” which God Himself holds together.

Therefore, we have so many nonsensical things here. But if you allow me and if I am not speaking for too long, I will tell you the following (for us who live in the Church this is the main reason): it is unthinkable to separate the body from the Liturgy, whichever way “body” means for Christ Himself and for men. But I will tell you something else which for me goes even beyond this. What do the members of Christ do? Firstly, they have a yearning, we say it in the Liturgy: “with faith and yearning come forward, that we may become sharers in everlasting life.” With yearning we move. What does this yearning do? Saint Maximos says it strikingly, he brought it to a peak: it is a yearning that conquers nature itself. He wonderfully says that “we prefer the truth to nature itself.” The yearning to partake of Holy Communion makes us prefer the truth to this nature itself. For a faithful person it is unthinkable... He would prefer the truth, desire for Christ, the divine eros, as we say, the communion of the Holy Gifts, over this nature and over this life. This is the Divine Liturgy and Holy Communion and so many other things. If you have any question we can discuss them, because I think that I am speaking too much already.

Part II: Protection from divine love?

PAPA DEMETRIOS CARELLAS: In the second video, there is even more of an underlying presence of the fact that Fr. Ioannis illustrates the great error of using man’s fallen reasoning to express the theology and the teachings of our Holy Orthodox Faith. It saddens him (and me) that the scholasticism, so inherent in the western theology, is being promoted by not a few Orthodox clergy and theologically educated laity. As a partial answer to the question as to whether or not it is justified (often called “an act of love”) to alter our liturgical practices in worship for the benefit of those that are weak in the Faith, Fr. Ioannis exclaimed: “Weakness can never impose itself on truth. This is completely outside of the understanding and reality of the Church.”

His explanation of the sanctification that takes place during the entire Divine Liturgy, BOTH on the Holy Gifts and us, is awe-inspiring. Every Orthodox clergyman needs to have this true understanding of our Holy Liturgy! And near the end, Fr. Ioannis—from his soul—makes this appeal to all of us: “I entreat [all] to love the Divine Liturgy with all of their soul. And then, all the answers will come; or better, the answers will be given.” May the All-Holy and Life-giving Spirit open all of our hearts to receive these Spirit-filled words, to nurture both our souls and bodies!

JUSTINO CARNEIRO: With regard to what you said about the degrees of incorporation, both in terms of space and of time—that is to say, inside the temple, outside of the temple, or in the temporal limits of the Liturgy and of the other services—can we say that within these limits the faithful possess immunity and that outside of these limits this immunity is lost?

Scholasticism is behind such a question.

FR. IOANNIS DRONGITIS: I think that this question, inevitable though as it is, which you do well to pose, as you should do so, it is like listening to questions, to seeds of scholasticism that exist in all of us or possibly in other people listening to what we are saying now. I consider this question to be of that kind. I mean that we have to respond in a way that addresses people’s scholasticism. We will not answer but we will show that this is a scholastic question. We will not be avoiding any risk; but firstly we have to show the disease (the disease is, at this moment, what comes out, by this question). We will speak about the limits, the zero-point, the “Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers”, the outside [of the temple], the point a little close to the door or inside the door [of the temple]. So we will start speaking in a way that is not compatible with the Orthodox experience, life and, of course, with theology.

What is certain is that the Divine Liturgy, speaking about the center of worship, is the real, in time and in history, manifestation of the eschaton. In which everything lives eternally and incorruptibly. We have spoken about the relationship between the reign, or let’s say, grace and corruption. I do not think something more should be said about it. But it is pointless to speak with exactitude about these limits. It is understood that man participates, is incorporated in the body of Christ during the Divine Liturgy and worship. Nobody can have in his mind limits like these: Now that I pass through the gate of the temple, I enter this state and now that I leave I have descended. Evidently, the degree of our incorporation reaches its peak and declines. I think it is inappropriate to give an answer for the exact moment of decline. We all understand that what we have within these limits is an iconic manifestation.

Icons (and all matter in the Church’s symbols) communicate grace. How to venerate in Orthodox manner (without scholasticism and without precaution).

And here we are faced with the big issue of the relationship between icon and reality. The icon is a reality, the eschaton is a reality, like the icon that we venerate; what is it? It is a manifestation of the prototype. But what do we have here? There is only a difference in the identity of essence, as we say in theology. We have a difference in the identity of essence, but we have a real manifestation. Matter is full of divine grace. So we venerate it, this matter which is full of divine grace. We venerate the person depicted, the person itself, except for the person’s essence. So we understand that through veneration, for us to be Orthodox, we do not just offer respect, we do not just give honor. But what then? We participate in the person’s grace. We become, through this way of veneration, proportionately and up to a degree, “partakers of the divine nature,” of grace. Isn’t matter full of grace, as we say? Every liturgical material is full of divine grace. Thus, we partake through the icon. Every icon, every depiction is a manifestation of this kind, through which the eschaton becomes present. “Here time is renewed,” as we say in the Church.

So we become too poor and I don’t think that it is necessary to give such an exact answer, not because it does not exist, I think each one understands this by himself. When we commune, when we venerate an icon, we venerate it and what do we do? We pray to God and to the saints for what? Many times, to be cured, right? Does that mean that we can define with timing when therapy occurs and when it ceases? Or when grace comes and leaves? Evidently we experience a descent and a reduction of this unity. Why? Because we are within the limits of createdness. We said this a bit earlier. Do you understand? So, now what should we say? Is it finished as soon as we’ve said “Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers”? Alright, we will leave from the temple. We are members of the body, in varying degrees of incorporation. We are once again within the limits of the created: we will get sick; we will die. You understand what I’m saying, don’t you? This doesn’t change. [Speculation on] the “when exactly” and the “how”—this would truly be a heresy. I think we all understand this, in an Orthodox way. What we are interested in is what is happening, when is the body conjoined, when is it incorporated, when is the incorporation assured, what happens in the incorporation. We are interested in this exchanging of the divine energy, the reception; “that we may become partakers in everlasting life,” incorrupt life. For we speak about a medicine of immortality in the Divine Liturgy. The rest, I think, belongs to scholasticism and we do not need to give an answer in such exact terms; I think the answer is evident.

Let me say something about veneration that I missed earlier. Look, any act of veneration (and mainly towards God), any loving movement in both the divine and human level: we are not afraid to speak about these things. The saints have told us so. Prudery has no place in the Church. Earthly love is a type of divine love, as Saint John of the Ladder says. There is no embarrassment in saying this. Who can move in a loving way towards another person, in a bodily union, with precaution? When you approach with precaution, you move with wariness—on the divine level with lack of faith. Precaution is incomprehensible in our relationship with God. In general, precaution is incomprehensible in love, do you understand? So we cannot go with a covering, with a mask to venerate. This is contrary to veneration, it is the opposite of drawing near, of a relationship, of love with another person So, how can we turn to God with divine yearning, having our face covered to not get sick... from divine grace? This situation exists in the human dimension as well, in which precaution reveals a hesitation, a difficulty of the soul, to put it that way.

Faith and the Miracle of the Divine Liturgy needed especially today.

JUSTINO CARNEIRO: Can we nonetheless say that certain measures (which alter the liturgical practice of the Church) are justified? Including the limitation of the number of those present and the closing of temples? Some like to say this is an expression of the love of the Church for its members and for the world? Not only an expression of love, but also as a condescension towards the weakness in the faith of some of the Church members.

FR. IOANNIS DRONGITIS: Look, weakness can never impose itself on truth. This is completely outside of the understanding and reality of the Church. On the same basis, every weakness, every deficiency, and every passion should be accommodated. The passions are cured in the Church. Man has the time, the way, the energies, the tools, to cure any deficiency, any passion, any weakness, any disease, even towards his faith. If this [lack of faith] exists, we should acknowledge it firstly as a weakness. What is happening now in the Church and, as you inform me, in Portugal, is the fact that there is a disease which is understood as a healthy condition. Do you understand? A perversion has happened. That it is healthy to protect ourselves [i.e., by closing the Churches] and that it is a sick thing for no one to be protected [i.e., with open churches without “precautions”].

A very dangerous heresy exists in the Church. A big evil is taking place right now, you know. Only through God’s energies can it be reversed. On the human level, destruction has been completed; but, fortunately, there is the divine. Disease does not impose itself upon the Church, Justino. It does not. If someone is sick, lovingly and not with arrogance, we take them by the hand, we carry them on our shoulder, as it is portrayed in iconography. We take the sick person and we carry him ourselves. Sickness does not lead us to the divine kingdom, health does. So, this argument is incomprehensible, it is convoluted, it is outside of the Church, it is an evil argument much similar to the argument of the serpent in paradise, Evidently, the closer the Church moves to the end times, the more apparent and strengthened these insidious so-called theories will become which are totally banished from the Church and completely unacceptable.

JUSTINO CARNEIRO: I think this question has been partly answered but I would like to formulate it more precisely. Several individuals state that the idea of an impossibility of contagion, in the Orthodox temple, is an example of superstition, magical thinking or even of a monophysite ecclesiology, according to which, human nature, in its weakness and fragility, would be absorbed in the divine nature. Other people say that miracles are always possible but that they are exceptions to the normal order of things and that, thus, we should not tempt God. What do you have to say about these different opinions?