Jordanville, New York, January 28, 2021
His Grace Bishop Luke of Jordanville of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia issued a statement concerning COVID-19 vaccines yesterday in response to the inquiries of the faithful.
Having consulted with “trusted Orthodox medical advisors,” it was concluded that “some of the concerns lack foundation in fact while others are legitimate,” Bp Luke writes in the statement published on Orthodox Life.
According to His Grace, concerns about the lack of long-term trials and the use of aborted fetal cells in research are valid and especially noteworthy.
However, “While some conventional vaccines apparently utilize these cell lines in production, the Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines do not,” Bp. Luke writes, thus the most important point is that “a complete analysis of side-effects is not available, and thus, many are legitimately concerned about this.”
However, according to Nebraska Medicine and many other medical sources, while the COVID vaccines do not contain aborted fetal cells, “Pfizer and Moderna did perform confirmation tests (to ensure the vaccines work) using fetal cell lines,” which is also a concern for many Orthodox Christians.
Also see the detailed list of vaccines at the Charlotte Lozier Institute that shows that HEK-293 (human embryonic kidney) cells were used in confirmatory lab tests for the production of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
Conversely, Bp. Luke writes, the concern that the mRNA vaccine rewrites DNA “seems excessive,” as, according to published articles, the mRNA does not enter the nucleus, but simply elicits protein production.
In the end, the new COVID vaccines are not perfect, but the decision whether to receive it or not is spiritually on par with other personal medical decisions, His Grace writes. The Orthodox faithful are not forbidden, nor do they need to seek a blessing to receive the vaccine.
Bp. Luke concludes: “Each should seek wisdom and discernment after soberly having their concerns addressed, realizing also that there are other possible therapies to treat this disease that have not received as much attention and are not under consideration here. Regardless of the personal decision regarding the vaccine, all should seek the loving therapy and hope of our Holy Church.”
His Eminence Metropolitan Luke of Zaporozhye of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church made a similar statement recently, noting that we do not know enough about the possible side effects of the vaccine, but the fear of mutated DNA seems “rather fantastic.”
Conversely, His Eminence Metropolitan Seraphim of Kythira of the Church of Greece and His Eminence Metropolitan Neophytos of Morphou of the Church of Cyprus have both expressed concern about the possibility of altered DNA.
Elder Parthenius, the abbot of St. Paul’s Monastery on Mt. Athos, also recently stated that he does not bless anyone to receive the vaccine, because, while it is not the same thing, it is too similar to what is described in Revelation 13. He also notes that the companies that produce the vaccines are exempt from any liability.
The Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of the United States of America issued a statement last week, encouraging all to consult their physicians about whether or not to be vaccinated.