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4 Jan, 2021 17:58

'Those with faith in Christ shouldn’t fear death from Covid-19:' Russian Orthodox bishop shares 'optimistic' message for 2021

'Those with faith in Christ shouldn’t fear death from Covid-19:' Russian Orthodox bishop shares 'optimistic' message for 2021

With the coronavirus pandemic still looming large as we enter the new year, one Orthodox bishop has sought to put it all into perspective with a cheery message of hope for his followers, and for people across the world.

The head of the Ekaterinburg diocese, in Russia’s Ural region, Metropolitan Evgeny, told local news site E1 that “the most frequently mentioned words in 2020 were ‘disease,’ ‘virus,’ and ‘pandemic.’ They have been said probably just as often as, in 1941, ‘Germans,’ ‘fascists,’ and ‘war’ were.”

According to him, at that time, former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and the Orthodox Church teamed up to give people faith that the crisis would resolve, and that “victory would be ours. Even when the Germans were at the gates of Moscow, they still said that the victory would be ours … Four years later, we won.”

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“Now, at the beginning of 2021, I would like to say that the victory will be for those people who are calm and stubborn … If we get sick, if someone dies with faith in Christ, they won’t be afraid, because we will all die.”

However, the clergyman was less positive about the vaccines against Covid-19 that are currently being rolled out by countries around the world. “The vaccine is the fruit of the work of smart people,” he said, but went on to add that he had “seen examples of children becoming disabled because of an incorrect vaccination. Because it wasn’t stored properly, or it wasn’t delivered on time. This process cannot be approached lightly.” It should be noted that many of these claims are disputed by scientists.

In December, a former monk of the Orthodox Church was arrested after a raid on his monastery over allegations that he encouraged child suicides during a sermon on patriotism. Nikolay Romanov, known as Father Sergius, encouraged parishioners to break pandemic-prevention rules on gatherings and attend church services. “Whoever encroaches on the closure of temples, damn him and his whole family,” the priest had said. He had been previously excommunicated from the Church over a series of inflammatory statements.

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