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Archbishop Makarios Speaks About the Vaccinated and the Unvaccinated Faithful

September 29, 2021

SYDNEY – His Eminence Archbishop Makarios of Australia issued an encyclical saying that all the faithful are welcome in the churches, those who are vaccinated and those who are not. He wrote among other things that “personally, I will never agree with a measure which divides the faithful between vaccinated and non-vaccinated. The doors of our Churches will be open for all. I do not accept that there will be people who wish to come to Church and we will not allow them.”

The Archbishop also stated that, “we often find that key issues, such as the pandemic, are discussed by unqualified persons, namely those who lack the theological competency and scientific knowledge. Indeed, the assertions of these people, notwithstanding the fact that they are superficial and denunciatory, are propounded long before the responsible ecclesial voice of the official Church, clearly intent on underestimating and undervaluing it. For example, the dangerous assertion, that within the Church no illnesses can be transmitted, is often propagated, a viewpoint that was heard in sermons of hierarchs and other official clergy (thankfully few), with the unfounded theological argument that within the Church all things are sanctified: the dust on which we walk upon the ground, the marble, the stones, the wood, the colours etc, and, as such, all these are changed into carriers of Divine Grace, thereby protecting us from pandemics and other such maladies. Certainly, such viewpoints can be identified more with idolatry, and these were condemned by the 7th Ecumenical Council. Beyond this, however, persons who support and promote such unorthodox theories shape the viewpoint and stance of the people of God, giving rise to a lack of trust towards the local Shepherds, and even towards the official voice of the Church.”

Addressing the priests, he wrote that, “as clergy you are obliged not to forget your distinctive attribute as a priest. In relation to posts on social media from our clergy, I will soon return to this matter with a new encyclical, because correspondence often comes to my desk from parishioners in relation to certain clergy with photographed material and texts, which do not express a priestly ethos and ecclesial mindset. However, in relation to the coronavirus and the pandemic, be mindful that whatever you publish, people do consider it as the voice of a clergyman and, more broadly, as the voice of the Church which he represents. Do not forget, therefore, that your distinctive attribute as a clergyman does not allow you to function as an individual. As you know, even when a clergyman departs from the active governance of the Church, he is not defrocked, does not cease celebrating the holy Sacraments, does not cease to take part in the clergy meetings of the local Church. Therefore, in every situation you need to function and act as members of the body which is called the Church. Not as individual members, not as autonomous ecclesial entities and voices, not as if you had no head, no bishop or no Shepherd, but as members of the Priestly Family of the Holy Archdiocese of Australia. If someone does not wish to be in this family, he has the right to leave; however, he does not have the right to follow his own way, and indeed one which is anti-ecclesial and unorthodox.”

Regarding the vaccines he stated, “in relation to vaccination and all vaccinations, this is primarily a medical and scientific issue. It is more holy and more spiritual for us, the clergy, who do not have the requisite knowledge, to ask and to listen. When we have concerns and hesitancies for certain public or critical issues, we communicate with our Shepherd and to him we submit our thoughts. Following this, the Shepherd has the responsibility to convey the concerns of the clergy and the laity of his Eparchy to the Synod, and the Synod, in its turn, will decide, to the extent that the Orthodox Church expresses herself synodically.”

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