Antioch Patriarchate about COVID-19 vaccines: “It is a personal decision”

The Patriarchate of Antioch published a statement on the anti-Covid-19 vaccines noting that ‘the Church considers that the matter of vaccination is not the speciality of the field of theological and spiritual studies, but rather specific to the field of medical sciences and its authorities.’

Church encourages scientific research

The text structured in seven points begins with the affirmation of the Church’s conviction in the essential role that scientific progress has played over time. “The Church encourages scientific research and scientists, and blesses every proper initiative that contributes to the progress of humanity and relieves human suffering.”

That is why the Church prays for “all those working to safeguard and serve human life, including researchers, scientists, medical doctors, nurses, and all healthcare workers in hospitals.”

Vaccination: a personal decision

Following the production of the anti-covid vaccine, the Orthodox Church of Antioch delimits the topic of vaccination from the theological and spiritual field, considering it “specific to the field of medical sciences.”

“The decision regarding taking the vaccine is a personal decision,” and every believer has the right to make this decision in consultation with their personal physician.

In the document, the Church of Antioch draws believers’ attention to the importance of continuing to comply with all health measures required by the authorities, as “the pandemic continues to pose a threat to human life.”

Political and commercial exploitation

‘The Church warns against any political or commercial exploitation of the issue of vaccines, especially against withholding them from marginalized groups and distributing them in a way that contradicts the principles of equality, justice, and solidarity among all people.’

The Church of Antioch states that it understands the complexity and variety of opinions, especially under the influence of the media, which generates “an atmosphere of fear, anxiety and intimidation.” Emphasizing that regardless of opinion, all are sons and daughters of the Church, the Patriarchate of Antioch invites all “o preserve the bond of peace, unity, and love that brings us together in Christ.”

Spiritual safety

While “there is no doubt that all preventive health measures and vaccinations are beneficial to our physical safety,” the Church of Antioch points out that “we must not overlook the importance of our spiritual safety.”

‘We live in estrangement from God, in a conflict with our brother, and in an incursion into our vital environment through an insatiable consumption of its resources.’

‘This situation is dealt with by changing our behaviour through sincere repentance, returning to God in prayer and a life of communion and service.’

‘We must renounce whatever harms ourselves, our brother, and our environment,’ the statement reads.

The text concludes with a message of hope that “the joy springing from our belief that Christ is with us until the end of time makes us companions on the way with our Fathers who followed the path of struggle in every time and place.”

This joy strengthens us in the face of all evil and injustice and makes us like the Holy Fathers, “able to overcome, with God’s grace and through concerted efforts, the challenges that face our journey, so that God may be glorified in our words and deeds.”

Photography courtesy of Nataliya Vaitkevich / Pexels

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