10/22/2020, 08.56
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Russian Orthodox Church once again in the grip of coronavirus

by Vladimir Rozanskij

The new wave of Covid-19 has led to the death of Dmitry Smirnov, president of the Patriarchal Commission for family, motherhood and childhood.  Another well-known Muscovite priest, the hieromonk Nikon, a supporter of the Romanov imperial family, also close to death.  A famous activist from the Union of Orthodox Fraternities, the writer Vladimir Osipov, has died.  Patriarch Kirill has been in isolation for some time, due to numerous positive cases in the entourage of collaborators of the patriarchate.




Moscow (AsiaNews) - Protoierej Dmitry Smirnov, one of Russia's most famous preachers, who already in the spring had defined the coronavirus "very useful" to push sinners to repentance, died yesterday at the age of 79.  He himself fell ill with Covid-19 in May, without fully recovering, and was a victim of the second wave, which is sweeping across the entire country.

In the last 24 hours the number of positives in Russia has risen to 15,700, and for the first time the threshold of 300 deaths per day has been crossed.  The total number of deceased reached 25 thousand units, with a total of one and a half million positives;  in Moscow alone, the positives are almost 5,000 a day.

Dmitry Smirnov (photo 1) was president of the Patriarchal Commission for the family, motherhood and childhood.  In this capacity he often agressively intervened against those who did not respect traditional Orthodox values.  Civil marriage between women was for him comparable to "gratuitous prostitution", and that between men a "national catastrophe".  In his opinion, parents had to choose a spouse for their children, and in large families, older daughters should not go to school, to help mothers care for younger children.  His statements, from which the patriarchy often distanced itself, were considered deliberately provocative, to draw attention to family issues, and met with the favor of a large number of faithful, attracted by his charisma.

As already last spring, many members of the Orthodox clergy, in particular the monks, were more exposed to the pandemic, mainly due to an entrenched denial of teh virus.  Patriarch Kirill himself has been in isolation for some time, due to numerous positive cases in the entourage of the collaborators of the patriarchate.  Patriarchal spokesman Vladimir Legojda stated that "the theories that one can be cured with the sound of bells, or that the virus cannot cross the threshold of ecclesiastical buildings because it is afraid of Orthodox rites, have no foundation in medicine, nor in the evangelical faith… it is a kind of orthodox magism, in which one believes in the magic of formulas to resolve all of life's problems”.

Another well-known Muscovite priest, Hieromonk Nikon (Belavenets, photo 2), at the age of 56, also risks his life for Covid.  He is the spiritual father of the group of "legitimist monarchists" who support the last heir of the imperial Romanov family, Maria Vladimirovna.  On 20 October he himself posted on his blog that he had been in intensive care for two weeks now, with a serious risk to his health.  A famous activist from the Union of Orthodox Fraternities, the 82-year-old writer Vladimir Osipov, passed away on the same day (photo 3).  Osipov had been a dissident in the Soviet years.  For his political positions he was expelled from the university, arrested in 1962 and sent to a concentration camp for 7 years, at the very beginning of the dissent movement, accused of "anti-Soviet propaganda".  Author of many publications, he held extreme positions of orthodox nationalism and monarchism, and was very politically active.

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