New York, January 25, 2021
“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).