Romanian bishop prosecuted for anti-vaccination sermon


Eastern Europe


There is quite some scepsis against vaccination in Romania. Photo AFP, Daniel Mihailescu

Romanian bishop Ambrose of Giurgiu is prosecuted because of his statements against Covid vaccinations, The European Times reports. The local police department suspects him of "abuse of office and dissemination of false information."

The reason for investigation is a sermon he held on October 14, in which bishop Ambrose claimed that the Covid vaccines are expired and that hospitals are spreading false information about deadly hospital fires. In the sermon, he called people not to be afraid of Covid and not rush for their vaccination. "Let all Members of Parliament, ministers and politicians get vaccinated first, and if any of these vaccines remain, then get vaccinated", he said.

According to his colleague Theodosius, the Archbishop of Tomis, people have the right to choose whether they want to be vaccinated. They should not be obliged to get the injection. "It is not constitutional; it is not legal. You are protected by the Constitution of the country and even by the European Constitution."

"Criticism undermines authority of Church"

In reaction, Romanian Patriarch Daniel urged believers to respect the rules of health protection. "If we endanger our lives here on earth, we risk endangering our salvation", he said, according to Basilica.

The patriarch stressed that bishops like Ambrose expressed their personal views on vaccination without consultation with their metropolitan or patriarch. According to him, such "uncoordinated" statements lead to criticism from the press and public, "thereby damaging the authority of the Church."

According to colonel Valeriu Ghorghita, who leads the Romanian vaccination campaign, the Orthodox church has a strong influence in rural areas where vaccination rates are low, according to The New York Times.

Romania has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the world. About 7 per cent of the adults have had at least one dose. Last week Tuesday, 600 Romanians died because of Covid. The country's death rate relative to population is almost 17 times as high as Germany's, The New York Times reported.

Covid situation in Eastern Europe is severe

The Covid situation in Eastern Europe is severe. According to a Reuters review on Friday, cases of the virus in Eastern Europe exceeded 20 million.

In Bulgaria, hospitals are flooded by new Covid patients. The mortality rate there is surging. Latvia recently re-introduced a complete lockdown as the first EU member since the early phase of the pandemic.

Mortality rates in Russia have not dropped for months and have only increased since the onset of autumn. About 40 per cent of all new cases in Eastern Europe are in Russia, The European Times states.

As a result, Russia has re-imposed Covid measures. The Russian Orthodox Church supports these regulations. According to the chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate metropolitan Hilarion, Russia should soon introduce QR codes and penalties for those who do not have one. According to the chairman, it should be mandatory for priests to be vaccinated.

However, the chairman of the Synodal department for relations between church and society told Ria Novosti that the Russian Orthodox Church insists that vaccinations should always be a matter of voluntary choice.



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