Georgian Orthodox Church Diocese: anti-vaccination narratives of the clergy are unacceptable
Anti-vaccination speeches of clergymen in Georgia are unacceptable, the Poti and Khobi dioceses of the Georgian Orthodox Church announced during the meeting chaired by Metropolitan Grigol Berbichashvili on August 30.
At the meeting, the epidemiological situation in the country was discussed and a special statement was made.
According to the clergy, the meeting discussed “myths and questionable information” related to vaccination against COVID-19. According to the diocese, such misinformation causes groundless fear and distrust towards the healthcare system:
“Statements of distrust in modern medical advances is a sign of the contradiction between knowledge and faith; the spiritual and intellectual heritage of mankind is based on the convergence and mutual recognition of these two phenomena – faith and knowledge”.
“It was also noted that there are issues of fundamental importance on which it is vital to have a general agreement in a large part of society. Otherwise, society will become vulnerable to various challenges it currently faces”, the statement said.
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Georgian Health Minister Yekaterina Tikaradze met with the Patriarch of the Georgian Orthodox Church on March 18 this year and discussed with him the issue of vaccination, however, the expectations that the Georgian Orthodox Church would take part in the vaccination process did not materialize.
“The position of the Patriarchate is not to participate in the promotion of vaccination but they will support any reasonable decision based on the safety of our citizens”, the Minister of Health said at the time.
A few days before the meeting with the Patriarch, the head of the National Center for Disease Control Amiran Gamkrelidze appealed to the Synod and priests with a request to support the nationwide vaccination program.
According to him, people often trust clergy above doctors, so their role in this process is especially important.
Only a member of the Holy Synod, Vladyka Anania, reacted to Gamkrelidze’s statement, saying that vaccination is necessary. Currently, only a small part of the clergy speaks about the need for vaccination. It is known that among the members of the Synod, only bishops Melkisedek Khachidze and Dimitri Shiolashvili have so far been vaccinated against coronavirus.
On August 11, it became known that most of the Catholic priests, monks and deacons of Georgia were vaccinated against the coronavirus. As of August 10, 35 out of 47 Catholic clergymen in Georgia received at least one dose of the vaccine.