His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of 300 million Orthodox Christians worldwide, announced he plans to be vaccinated against covid and urged the faithful to also get vaccinated when their time comes.
His statement was shared by Archbishop Elpidophoros:
The pandemic changed our social life, our daily life, our participation in the life of the Church. All this time we are shocked by the sufferings of countless of our fellow human beings and are impressed by the self-sacrifice of doctors and nurses.
That is why it is unacceptable, in the face of so many victims and so much pain, to have people who deny the reality of the pandemic, who consider it a fabrication of “various circles.”
It is even more provocative when such views are expressed by Christians, often by clergy, who self-proclaim to be defenders of a God of their own. New Testament affirms that whoever does not love man, cannot love God.
They are indifferent to the protection of fellow human beings. The rejection of the mask and all precautionary measures does not arise simply from ignorance but from the necrosis of love within them. Science, when it opens auspicious prospects for the future of mankind, is a gift from heaven.
Our faith certainly is not affected when we follow the instructions of experts. Nor do the restrictions on participation in the Services diminish the importance of the Church and what is conducted in it for the life of the faithful. Protective measures are not directed against the Church. They protect the faithful, who, like everyone else, are just as vulnerable to the virus.
Of course I will get the vaccine. Besides, I think this is required based on my age. I am close to 81, so I belong to the age group that needs to be vaccinated. But it is not only a matter of necessity or choice, but also a responsibility to fellow human beings.
That is why I hope that a large part of the world’s population will soon be vaccinated for the spread of the deadly virus to stop.
Of course, until then, we must all strictly observe the protective measures so as not to mourn more victims.
His Eminence Archbishop Makarios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of Australia, discussed a number of issues on Greek Television network ERT on Sunday, including the covid-19 pandemic and vaccines, as well as the events planned in Australia to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Greek Revolution of 1821.
Regarding COVID-19 vaccines, the Archbishop of Australia made it clear that citizens must take up this promising challenge in dealing with the pandemic, noting that he too will be vaccinated, even in public, to make a symbolic gesture of confidence in the vaccines and the procedure followed.
It is recalled last year, the Archbishops of the Anglican, Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox Churches sent a letter to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison outlining their “ethical concerns” about a potential coronavirus vaccine. In the joint letter, they expressed their reservations and asked for assurances that the government would provide more vaccine options.
“The government has fortunately complied with this request,” Archbishop Makarios said, noting that from mid-February, when vaccinations begin in Australia, there will be other vaccines which have no moral concern. “I want to emphasise this and to be heard by our compatriots in Greece”, he added, “but also by the clergy and the monks and some bishops who raise concerns.”