Patriarch Kirill laments lower church attendance, “the last thing to be afraid of is getting sick in church”

Moscow, December 7, 2021

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His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia laments that the circumstances surrounding the pandemic have led to lower church attendance.

While it’s understandable, given that people are worried about getting sick, “the last thing to be afraid of is getting sick in church,” the Patriarch said following the Divine Liturgy at the Christ the Savior Cathedral yesterday on the occasion of the 800th anniversary of the birth of the Grand Prince and warrior St. Alexander Nevsky, reports

The Russian Church has been holding events throughout 2021 in honor of the great saint, including processions with his relics across Russia. The Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky was consecrated in Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan, on the feast yesterday.

A particle of the relics of St. Alexander Nevsky were carried into the altar at Christ the Savior before the start of the service celebrated by His Holiness together with seven other hierarchs and a host of local and visiting clergy. Following the Liturgy, a moleben was served before the relics in the center of the church.

And thanking the members of the combined choir that sang the festal service, the Patriarch turned to the topic of church attendance:

I would like to thank the choirs that sang so beautifully today… I only regret that the circumstances of the pandemic are reducing the number of faithful who come to church. It’s understandable: Some are afraid of getting sick, although, of course, the last thing to be afraid of is getting sick in church.

And the Russian primate offered two reasons not to be afraid:

First, the grace of God is here. Second, a certain order is followed, so people don’t come into very close contact and so the church isn’t a place of infection. But even though the number of people is limited today, beautiful Church music was performed by the choirs.

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Antiochene Son12/9/2021 6:16 pm
@Vladimir: We do not fear physical death. Death is our entrance to eternal life, and it will come at the appointed time regardless of what we do.
Ioann12/9/2021 11:03 am
JJ: The Russian Orthodox Church prays every day at the Liturgy for a speedy end to the pandemic and protection. Probably other Churches do too. Ephraim, Antiochene: If people have faith, these things will not scare them. Also, if a church authority, i.e., priest or bishop asks that people wear masks in church, we do it out of obedience. Obedience to our Church authorities is quite Orthodox Christian, and according to the holy fathers, leads to the salvation of the soul. Complaining and criticizing them does not (and I'm not talking about heretics and schismatics here--only people who are trying to save lives).
Ephraim12/8/2021 6:59 pm
People aren't showing up to Church because they are scared. They aren't showing up to Church because they see our own priests, deacons, and bishops wearing masks and forcing covid mandates in the Church. They see the clergy acting this way so they lose faith in the Church.
Antiochene Son12/8/2021 5:50 pm
The Church is going to reap what it has sown by accepting the COVID hysteria. It's not a question of whether people will stay away, it's a question of how many. God help us.
Vladimir M. Bogdanov12/8/2021 3:06 pm
Maybe if all clergy and attendees were instructed to wear masks, get vaccinated, et cetera, then there would be less concern? Who can blame people for wanting to live to pray another day?
JJ12/8/2021 3:01 pm
Why hasn’t the Church called for a day of fasting and prayer asking for the pandemic to cease. Doesn’t the Church leadership believe in the efficacy of prayer?
Gary12/8/2021 2:44 pm
We need to attend Church services. The Patriarch gives us 2 reasons we will be safe. #1 is God gives protection and #2 is people maintain a social distance. I think this is very sound advice. Reminds one of the safety precautions against leprosy in the Old Testament.
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