Assembly of Canonical Bishops issues statement on COVID vaccine

New York, January 25, 2021

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“Our clergy and lay faithful are seeking archpastoral guidance regarding developments in medicine, such as COVID-19 vaccines and immunizations,” writes the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America in a statement issued on Friday.

Offering this guidance, the Assembly reminds that Scripture teaches us that the body is the temple of the Lord and discourages us from tempting the Lord.

Therefore, the hierarchs encourage their flocks to consult their physicians to determine whether or not to receive the vaccine.

The Assembly of Bishops currently represents all canonical jurisdictions in America except for the Moscow Patriarchal Parishes and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia.

“If we work together – in a spirit of sincere compassion and care for one another – we will soon be able to gather together as a full community in our churches once again,” the statement reads.

Read the full statement below:

Christ “came not to heal the healthy, but the sick; not to save the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17)

As the world continues to battle COVID-19, we are ever grateful to the frontline workers – including medical professionals, emergency responders, and scientists – for their unwavering dedication to making the world a better place.

In light of the same, given our clergy and lay faithful are seeking archpastoral guidance regarding developments in medicine, such as COVID-19 vaccines and immunizations, we offer the following guidance:

Scripture encourages us to respect and protect the body as the temple of God (1 Cor. 6:19). At the same time, it discourages us from either tempting or testing the Lord (Matt. 4:7). And as your spiritual shepherds, we affirm and assure you that it is neither wrong nor sinful to seek medical attention and advice. In fact, we welcome interventions that provide us more time for spiritual renewal and repentance.

We therefore encourage all of you – the clergy and lay faithful of our Church – to consult your physicians in order to determine the appropriate course of action for you, just as you do for surgeries, medications, and vaccinations, in cancer treatments and other ailments. Indeed, while your own bishop, priest, or spiritual father remains prepared to assist you with spiritual matters, your personal doctor will guide your individual medical decisions.

We trust that whatever course of action you and your doctor decide upon will also benefit the rest of the community. If we work together – in a spirit of sincere compassion and care for one another – we will soon be able to gather together as a full community in our churches once again. We miss you very much and eagerly await the day when we can all exchange the kiss of peace in the Divine Liturgy!

The statement is signed by Assembly Chairman Archbishop Elpidophoros (Greek Archdiocese), Vice-Chairman Metropolitan Joseph (Antiochian Archdiocese), Treasurer Archbishop Michael (Orthodox Church in America), Secretary Metropolitan Gregory (Carpatho-Russian Diocese), Bishop Irinej (Serbian Church), Metropolitan Nicolae (Romanian Metropolia), Metropolitan Joseph (Bulgarian Diocese), Bishop Saba (Georgian Church), and Metropolitan Tikhon (Orthodox Church in America).

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Anne4/18/2021 5:10 pm
Bonnie, I’m afraid you are wrong. The Astra Zeneca vaccine contains cells derived from a baby aborted in the 1970s. The argument is that they aren’t the actual cells - but the cells used would not now be in existence if it were not for the murder of that particular fetus. The mRNA vaccines used aborted fetus cells for testing purposes.
Bonnie2/2/2021 6:59 pm
If those who find fault with the vaccine would bother to read the facts... there is NO fetal material in the vaccine! NO embryonic tissue! Your judgements against the Archbishops and Metropolitans is disgusting. The person who made that racial slur about ‘Jewish lawyers’ should repent! Don’t you realize Christ was born a Jew to Mary a Jew in Jerusalem?
Herman1/27/2021 6:01 pm
Popsy - the only reason that ROCOR is not part of this is because they withdrew from participation in SCOBA after Constantinople's recognition of the schismatics in Ukraine. If that had not happened, there very well may be a ROCOR bishop signing his name to this ridiculous statement (which reads as if it was written by one of the Archons, or one of their Jewish lawyers...). After all, the Moscow Patriarchate seems to be firmly supporting the Sputnik drug, despite the fact that "the Russian Church considers it ethically unacceptable to use cell lines derived from human embryonic tissue to develop vaccines." The bishops in Moscow seem to have adopted a sort of principle of double effect when dealing with this issue, which would be more in line with Catholic theology and Thomas Aquinas than it is with Orthodoxy - for example, it's OK to use this drug if it will save lives, even though countless lives were aborted in order to develop, produce, and test it... the sort of mental gymnastics and moral compromise one must engage in when desiring to justify one's participation in some kind of immoral activity.
Popsy1/27/2021 8:13 am
This is a statement that "talks, but doesn't say anything". 99% of the doctors are just following whatever they're trained to do in school: vaccinate people. So don't expect much from there. The statement doesn't say a word about informed consent, ingredients in the vaccine (especially aborted fetus DNA), new technology that was never used for a vaccine, the fact that the vaccine was rushed without going through rigid and thorough testing, etc. And the fact that Archbishop Elpidophoros is the Chairman, says a lot... No wonder the Russians are not part of this. So sad...
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