Last week the head of the Russian church, Patriarch Kirill, speaking at a major diocesan conference, finally declared his, and the church's, position regarding whether vaccines should be mandatory or not, and the use of vaccine passports.The statement was diplomatic, in that it sought to address concerns on both sides of the argument, but also made it clear, that the forced vaccinations initiatives currently undertaken by the government, are unacceptable. In this sense, it was a win for the anti-vaccine movement.
In this video, a popular priest who is almost daily on air on Russia's 2nd largest, and most conservative Christian TV station, Tsargrad, Andrei Tkachev, explains the main points of the Patriarch's statement. Tkachev is conservative in his views, and praises the Patriarch for finding the right balance between the opposing sides, while defending the most important principles. Tkachev has an uncanny knack for speaking precisely and to the point. The English transcript below gives a very good precis and evaluation of the Patriarch's statement. Video is in Russian.
The Patriarch's statement was read out to the public at the end of all church services all across Russia.
Brothers and sisters, hello. I have before me the words of our Church's leader, Patriarch Kirill, which have been sent out to all parishes in Russia in order to be read to people after the service. I find it appropriate and necessary to read it now for those who do not attend services regularly.
It is the patriarch's word on vaccines and QR codes in recent times. I've selected some important passages from the text. I'll just read them out. At times I might comment on something.
The Russian Orthodox Church consistently adheres to the principles of protecting the freedom to choose whether or not to use new and rapidly developing technologies, including in medicine.
That is, the vaccinated should not criticize the unvaccinated, and the unvaccinated must not judge the vaccinated. It is a free choice. The priest can neither force vaccination, nor forbid vaccination.
At the same time, participants of the diocesan meeting are reminded that the historical experience of the Russian Orthodox Church knows examples of active participation of clergy in the dissemination and practice of vaccination, thanks to which many well-known epidemics in the past have disappeared.
The use of digital identity, automated decision-making which can lead to the deprivation of the rights of individuals or entire communities, the collection and processing of personal data including health data, all this requires the control of society, including the Church as a public institution.
In his message, the Patriarch talks a lot about how in the modern world, powerful virtual and digital technologies can alienate humans. The power of these digital technologies can lead inexorably to coercive behavior of anonymous digital technology. In principle, the Patriarch addresses the fears and concerns among us, among believing people and non-believers.
People are concerned about this mechanism of "giving permission" of various rights and activities - attendance at public events, going to churches, traveling from place to place, which previously were not questioned by anyone, and were accessible to all. In fact, a very simple question arises, namely the mechanism for depriving people of basic rights such as free movement or being in public places. Some have criticized the church for remaining silent, for sitting in the shadows, for wanting to hide behind the shoulders of the state.
Very correct words. Very careful words, with neither too harsh, nor too soft. He is saying the right thing at the right time.
The Church cannot imagine a situation in which with the help of QR codes people will or will not be let into churches. It is inconceivable that in order to enter a church, parishioners would be required to show a code or any other ID.
This question is very important. The Patriarch goes on to say that he:
... addressed the State Duma (Parliament), parliamentary hearings last year. I said that the digitalization of life is dangerous because data processing and access to data leakage through human error can compromise the rights of a huge number of people, can deprive us of basic rights and freedoms.
This is what the church openly tells the president, the legislature and everyone else.
There is a very important addendum to this: seeding panic is also a sin. Many people say the QR codes are the seal of the Antichrist. Such reasoning leads people away from understanding that enslavement to the spirit of the Antichrist consists in refusing to be faithful to the Lord in one's actions, words and thoughts, in refusing to be in church. But this seal is only the visible expression of an already completed apostasy, which we need to resolutely avoid, in love to Christ.
That is, the antichrist is not yet active as a person, but his spirit is active in the world and people who have submitted to the antichrist in spirit will then accept him as a person. This has always been true. Many did not live to see the antichrist, but lived in the spirit of the antichrist and will be strangers to the kingdom of God.
In general, the Patriarchs words are very good. They will inevitably cause even more criticism of him. Those on the right will not be happy with the diplomatic nature of the letter, and the lukewarm and relaxed people will not like some of the stern ideas which were expressed.
That is, a person speaking the truth becomes an enemy of those who do not agree with the truth.
But the text is very good - carefully constructed, not allowing misinterpretation:
- Vaccination is a personal decision - the president also said this. It must be persuaded, it must not be forced. You can't punish people for not getting vaccinated. Persuasion is the only way to influence people, everything else is not allowed.
- QR codes are in no way the seal of the antichrist.
- Vaccination have been used in epidemics in the past - cholera and plague and so on and so forth. Indeed these diseases have been overcome and gone by medical means.
- Fear in society must be lowered.
- QR codes must not be used as a means of dehumanizing a person and depriving him of his basic and fundamental civil rights.
I recommend that you read for yourselves the words of the Patriarch at the diocesan meeting. They were supposed to have been read in all the churches. Good words on an important subject.
Banish your fear. Stay level-headed.