The Romanian Orthodox Church is distancing itself from the statements of some anti-vaccination pastors and encouraging vaccination against COVID-19, the spokesman for the Romanian Patriarchate, Vasile Bănescu, recently declared. He has sharply criticized the anti-vaccination assertions of some clergymen, emphasizing that from the standpoint of the Romanian Orthodox Church, there is no conflict between science and faith. Prior to the spokesman’s declaration, some orthodox pastors had generated a wave of indignation in a part of Romanian society by asserting that “the real and best vaccination is Holy Communion,” the transindex.ro news portal wrote.
As Bănescu emphasized in a show aired by the Digi 24 news television channel, statements of this kind could discourage believers from registering for the COVID-19 vaccination. In the church’s view, Christians should be informed about vaccines by doctors, as vaccination is a health issue, not a matter of faith.
The spokesman noted that he was shocked when he heard the anti-vaccination lines, like “the best vaccination is Holy Communion.” “Holy Communion is indeed the most sacred thing in our Christian life. I was shocked by the fact that vaccination was compared to the body and blood of Christ,” detailed Bănescu. “I am of the opinion that anyone who says such things is not only making a serious mistake but – presumably unconsciously – is also committing a kind of sacrilege,” he emphasized.
The Romanian Orthodox Church encourages vaccination; from the standpoint of the Patriarchate, it is not right to commingle medical and health issues with spiritual matters in the public space and then draw conclusions from all this confusion. One should also not make statements like “a self-anointed sage who claims to have found the cure for everything,” Bănescu explained.
Regrettably, the words of anti-vaccination clergymen could discourage people from getting vaccinated and this could destroy sincere dialogues between believers and representatives of science, the spokesman added. “There is really no conflict between science and faith,” he declared, noting that a great many believers and pastors have been vaccinated because they have realized that the coronavirus pandemic cannot be halted if people are not protected against the virus.
The Hotnews.ro news portal also mentioned in a recent piece that on Saturday, the leader of the Romanian Orthodox Church, Daniel Patriarch, sent a message of encouragement to Orthodox believers. In it, he drew attention to the fact that in Israel, for instance, more than 2,500 people were allowed to visit the tomb of Jesus in Jerusalem because a significant portion of the population has been already vaccinated there, thus allowing coronavirus measures to be relaxed.
Title image: The leader of the Romanian Orthodox Church, Daniel Patriarch (in the photo), noted that thousands were allowed to visit the tomb of Christ because of the successful vaccination campaign in Israel