Russian Church vaccine round table: Not a sin to receive COVID vaccine

Moscow, May 21, 2021

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Yesterday, Sretensky Theological Academy hosted the round table, “Vaccination: Ethical Problems in the Light of the Orthodox Faith.”

Participants included members of the Inter-Council Presence of the Russian Orthodox Church, experts in the field of medicine and biology, and representatives of the Orthodox community. At the end of the event, the participants approved a final statement, touching upon freedom of choice, conspiracy theories, and the use of embryonic cell cultures.

The statement is published on the site of the Russian Orthodox Church.

It begins by acknowledging the labors of scientists and doctors towards overcoming the pandemic and developing a vaccine. They deserve our “deep gratitude and respect,” the document reads.

Clergy have also played an important role in promoting vaccination in the past, the statement notes. For example, in 1804, the Holy Synod called on bishops and priests to explain to their flocks the benefits of vaccination against smallpox. The basics of vaccination against smallpox were also included in clergy training programs, and the vaccine was supported, for example, by St. Innocent of Moscow.

The complete refusal of all vaccines for any disease cannot be attributed to the Orthodox faith, but is a personal choice, the document continues.

“The Russian Orthodox Church consistently adheres to the principles of protecting the freedom of choice of a person in the use or non-use of new and rapidly developing technologies,” and thus maintains that COVID vaccination must not become mandatory.

The participants in the round table noted that assessing the effectiveness and any side effects of any medicine is outside the task and competence of the Church, and thus it is important to have a broad expert and public discussion of these problems. The people must also have full access to information about how necessary a drug is, and any possible consequences.

At the same time, the participants “consider it unacceptable and sinful to spread false teachings that identify vaccination with ‘accepting the seal of the antichrist,’ as well as conspiracy claims about the alleged secret chipping of humanity through vaccination.”

Interestingly, the Holy Synod of the Moldovan Church of the Moscow Patriarchate expressed concern about the possibility of chipping via vaccines in a statement last May.

According to the Bases of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church, adopted by the Bishops’ Council in 2000, “The Church believes it to be definitely inadmissible to use the methods of so-called fetal therapy, in which the human fetus at various stages of its development is aborted and used in attempts to treat various diseases” (XII.7). Thus, while noting that many vaccines and medicines in general are tested on cells of embryonic origin, the participants “believe it’s necessary for pharmaceutical companies to seek the possibility of using technologies that exclude the use of these cell cultures.”

Taking into account all the above, and considering the absence of an available alternative and COVID’s threat to human life, the participants state that “an Orthodox person using a vaccine for this disease, created or tested using an embryonic human cell culture, is not involved in the sin of abortion, as a result of which this cell culture was created.”

However, if/when an alternative is developed without the use of embryonic human cell cultures, that vaccine should be used “as more ethically acceptable.”

The Orthodox Theological Society in America expressed a similar position in its own statement in March, while some Orthodox hierarchs are adamant that Orthodox Christians absolutely cannot receive vaccines involving such cells.

The round table document calls for respect for the position of both those who consider it possible to use vaccines made using embryonic cell cultures and those who refuse to use such vaccines.

The document concludes: “The participants of the round table consider it necessary to continue the discussion on the moral aspects of the widespread use of cell cultures grown from embryonic human cells in medicine.”

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George10/26/2021 7:20 pm
Does anyone have a source to the actual full round table document.
Anne5/29/2021 8:10 pm
The number of vaccine injuries are growing by the day. This was never about a virus. It is all about the vaccines - the endgame. A cull. The Church ought to know this - all the signs are there. I personally know of someone who had blood clots, another a heart attack, another severe joint pains, and I’ve heard of two deaths from the mouths of relatives of acquaintances. I know of 5 people who had the China virus - all survived without hospitalisation. Seems like a very different tale with the vaccines.
sherlock_holmes5/25/2021 11:19 pm
Dear JJ, the extremes are from devil !... The Holy Synods recommended us to consult our conscience or our doctors in order to not take or take the " vaccine ". Personally I talked to a very holy man in our Church about this, and because right now I don't have a family doctor I couldn't follow on his advice ( doctor's ) or my conscience. On a funny note: Mouse No 1: “Are You Going to get Vaccinated” Mouse No. 2: Are You Crazy, They Haven’t finished the Tests on Humans”...
JJ5/25/2021 3:44 pm
Without getting into the details of this debate for which there are proponents on both sides; the following factors should be considered. First what is driving this debate in which the voices of rationalism are raised against the voices of conservatism; the latter can at times be highly protective and sensible. Nevertheless there was a time when, in rural Russia, the coming of the car was seen as the harbinger of the anti-Christ. Do you drive to church? Second I had thought the church is conciliar but it seems in this debate it is every one deciding for himself - the decision is to be made in the protestant manner. At heart Americans are protestant and I assume most of the commenters here are Americans; and protestant by background. Finally those partaking in the debate and taking the anti-medical-establishment stance should note that their arguments in a way resemble those of eastern gurus and other such 'new age' type figures eg "Doctors in India have hit out against yoga guru Baba Ramdev over his controversial statements against modern medicine. He recently said that tens of thousands died of Covid after taking modern medicines and mocked patients for trying to get oxygen cylinders." (reported recently in the British news)
sherlock_holmes5/23/2021 6:37 pm
Christ is Risen ! Motto:They were in great fear where no fear was (Psalm 13:5) Because the consequences for those who won't take the vaccine get closer and closer to those prophesied in the Holy Scriptures ( although not being the mark of the beast but part of it ) and surrounded by all this cheap global show full of mishaps and manipulation,fear of death for many , corruption and avarice for others, some wise people in the Church ( and elsewhere ) should become aware of potential dangers and take action : Study the Scriptures and the Saint's prophecies,talk to the holy man in the Church,bring the well known scientists who have other opinions than the mainstream and hear their voices,facilitate a debate between them,don't listen only to one side,that is Not a wise behavior,be cautious in statements.Personally I like only the position of the Holy Synod of the Moldovan Church of the Moscow Patriarchate ,highlighted in this article,maybe there are others I am not aware of.
sherlock_holmes5/23/2021 5:44 pm
Motto:And the Lord God commanded Adam saying:"You may eat food from every tree in the garden;but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you may not eat;for in whatever day you eat from it,you shall die by death "...To eat is not a sin,but eating certain food during the fasting,it is a sin for Christians.Or to know that a food is slowly poisoning somebody and being silent about it ,it is a sin.And in the Morning prayers we ask :"O Lord, free me from all Ignorance and forgetfulness, from despondency and stony insensibility."
Matthew5/23/2021 1:46 pm
Dear in Christ Timothy, the embryonic material used for vaccines cannot be from a miscarriage, as it needs to be 'harvested' and preserved immediately. This means that the intention and means to do so must be present beforehand, in other words, arranged in advance. Perhaps it could be said that the baby would have been terminated anyway, and it's better if some good can come of it, but that's another issue.
Andreas Kos5/23/2021 9:17 am
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ. I recommend watching the following link:
JP5/23/2021 4:56 am
Are there not any Holy Elders speaking out somewhere in this confused world for people to hear the clear voice of God? Do we have Holy Elders anywhere in the world today? Or are we rolling the dice along with the round table leaders of today? Place your bets, red or black. Don't worry folks. It's not a sin because the Church has your back. Where are our true spiritual leaders at today?
Timothy5/23/2021 3:49 am
Christ is Risen! Finally a voice of reason! Ignorance disguised as piety is a sin. Furthermore the "super pious" seem to believe that abortions were deliberately performed to create a vaccine. How do they know this? How do they "know" the tissue wasn't from a miscarriage? An Athonite monk recently wrote that this "logic" is akin to teaching it's a sin to venerate the relics of the martyrs because by doing so you partake in their martyrdom. Think on that!
Jason5/22/2021 8:16 pm
I'm sorry, but it is public knowledge that the same organizations, at least in the US, that act as the propaganda arm for these experimental injections (NIH, CDC, etc.) have been complicit in the use of body parts and live organs from babies that have been murdered through abortions. Why would any Orthodox Christian put any trust/faith in people and organizations that are so obviously demonic? This is an abomination and these men are cowards. One way or another, the time to stop rationalizing and making excuses for evil is quickly approaching. Lord, have Mercy on us all.
Steve5/22/2021 6:57 pm
I only use hypoallergenic hair and skin care products, because I am sensitive to most other products. I didn't know that "hypoallergenic" meant that those products were tested on fetal cells. Imagine my outrage. I am now going to stop showering and washing my hair until I find a better substitute. Orthodoxy is so much fun.
Mikhail5/22/2021 3:54 pm
Hi Gary, You are correct. I have been boycotting a number of companies for many years (such as Nestle and Pepsico) for the very reasons you state. Some companies have responded to our letters. It is important that everyone is informed about this continuing genocide against our most helpless voiceless ones in the womb who are not given a chance to live. Here is a website. Please offer any additional information you may have discovered so that we can take action. Thank you.
Gary Cox5/22/2021 7:25 am
If we can't take a vaccine that was tested on cloned murdered babies then what about artificial flavorings and colorings in our food that were tested on aborted ( murdered ) baby cells? What about hair coloring,soap, shampoo, perfume, the coloring in our clothing, bandaids and more? Its cheaper to test on aborted cloned baby cells than to pay people to test for allergies and sensitivities. These are things I only recently found out about. It's sickening! When something is labelled hypoallergenic, guess how they know that it won't cause an allergic reaction? This murdered baby business in involved in so much of our lives that we didn't know about. Saying we can't do one thing but we can do the other doesn't sound right so what do we do?
Nia5/22/2021 6:53 am
These people don't have names and faces. They don't want their names associated with the conclusion. How do I know they are Orthodox Christians. Monastics that are against the usage of fetal cell lines, have their names attached to their statements.
Dmitri5/22/2021 3:25 am
How can we as Orthodox Christians condemn the practise of abortion whilst in the same breath say it's acceptable to use the cell cultures of aborted foetuses to create vaccines? So sin is now our weapon against the fear of death? This is truly a tragic statement, I would even say heretical. Lord have mercy!
Alexander Leitner5/21/2021 11:43 pm
These statements are nonsense! Wher is Holy Orthodoxy?
Thomas Spiro5/21/2021 11:17 pm
Our Church leaders should be insisting that vaccinations that do not use aborted fetal cells in development or testing be advanced and all others rejected. Pressure should be put on governments to offer medical choices that don't conflict with ethical and moral teachings.
Basil Hill-Zeck5/21/2021 10:16 pm
"an Orthodox person using a vaccine for this disease, created or tested using an embryonic human cell culture, is not involved in the sin of abortion, as a result of which this cell culture was created.” Are there any quotes from Scripture, Church Services, Lives of Saints, Church Canons, the teachings of the Holy Fathers, or anywhere in Holy Tradition that would support such a position?
Theophan5/21/2021 7:55 pm
At face value to say a vaccine is not a sin would be fine, but we have to look at context over the past year, and over the past 100 years in Russia and America. Also , we must consider all of the words recent Father's and Saints. When did health become a god, and the fear of death become our primary concern? St. Herman of Alaska pray for us.
Antiochene Son5/21/2021 6:02 pm
"Round table discussions" and "theological societies" have no authority in the Orthodox Church. Where are the Holy Synods of the Church giving clear and decisive instructions to the faithful?
Mikhail5/21/2021 4:57 pm
“an Orthodox person using a vaccine for this disease, created or tested using an embryonic human cell culture, is not involved in the sin of abortion, as a result of which this cell culture was created.” This was a tragic statement! They are mistaken! May the Lord have mercy on their souls.
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