Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew had strong words for people who continue to deny the existence of the Coronavirus pandemic and said people who refuse to wear masks suffer from a “necrosis of love within them.”
The words came during an all-encompassing interview with Maria Antoniadou in the Greek newspaper “To Vima,” during which he spoke about a wide rage of issues impacting global Orthodoxy, including the sacrament of Holy Communion and the recognition of the Church in Ukraine as an independent Church.
On an interesting note, this was the first time Bartholomew gave an interview in modern Greek. Previous interviews and all of Bartholomew’s official correspondence have always been in the “Katharevousa” or puristic Greek.
“The pandemic changed our social life, our daily life, our participation in the life of the Church,” Bartholomew, the spiritual leader of the world’s 300 million Orthodox Christians said in the interview. “All this time we are shocked by the suffering 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.”
The 80-year-old Patriarch even called out clergy who express such views.
“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. The 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.
“Protective measures are not directed against the Church”
“Our faith certainly is not affected when we follow the instructions of experts,” Bartholomew said. “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.”
Responding to the journalist’s question on whether or not he will get the vaccine, Bartholomew left no doubt in his response and went on to say it was a “responsibility to fellow human beings.”
“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.”
The full interview in To Vima (in Greek) is here.
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