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Guest Viewpoints

On COVID 19 – By the Abbot of the Holy Monastery of Xenophontos on Mt Athos

February 20, 2022
Special to The National Herald: Archimandrite Alexios

Regardless of its origin, I consider the COVID-19 pandemic a test granted by God to the human race. ‘Granted’ does not mean God imposed it, but, rather, allowed it.

Thus, all of us found ourselves facing a painful reality, daily counting scores of dead – our loved ones.

Various voices wished to interpret this phenomenon, resulting in confusion and division in the world.

Institutional entities have kept us regularly informed as to the course of the virus and the ways of dealing with it.

The magnificent Xenophontos Monastery. Monks and pilgrims are waiting for the arrival of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew. (Photo provided by Xenophontos Monastery)

It is truly perplexing, however, that a matter of health has been turned by some people into an article of faith. The head of the Great Church of Christ, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, declared at the outset that it is not our faith that is in danger due to the virus, but our faithful, and invited us to deal with the disease by heeding the advice of the specialists and those who were making the vaccine, which he was among the first to receive.

Likewise, the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece spoke out, urging the faithful to get vaccinated. The same was done by government entities, which bear direct responsibility for the health of their citizens.

Unfortunately, the reasonable responsible voices of the appropriate entities were met with opposition by the irresponsible voices of various groups, which divided the people, with the result that lives were lost untimely, and the virus went on to perpetuate itself with its variants, for as long as it is unimpeded.

Vaccinations are universally available to all, Christians and non-Christians alike. Why, then, is it being spread – as a few are declaring it to be the antichrist – to Muslims, to Hindus, to pagans, everywhere?

Even on Mount Athos, there are voices that do not heed the directives of the Church and of science. Unfortunately, here, as well, we are mourning a number of losses.

The Church, when it speaks with one voice, does not err. “The majority view prevails.”

We are saddened that a health matter has been turned into a dogmatic issue, with some saying that those who are vaccinated will not be saved…what a hurtful and superficial judgment!

With the humble and heartfelt prayers of the faithful and our heeding the advice of those responsible in the Church and in our State, Divine Grace will bring about the desired end to this deadly virus, which is scourging our planet.

We should not forget: as with every physical ailment we seek out the doctor and follow the regimen for healing which we are given, why then should we not do the same with respect to this virus, which has decimated so many human lives, and utilize the medicine which God has given us through science, to curtail the progression of the pandemic?

“Let us stand aright,” brothers and sisters, and do not believe in any which opinion, to isolated irresponsible voices. Rather, listen to what the Lord is saying, through the Church.

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