10/29/2021, 11.02
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Russian Church decimated by Covid-19

by Vladimir Rozanskij

New pandemic wave hits the country. The population, especially the Orthodox clergy, shows a general resistance to vaccination. Public demonstrations are forbidden, including religious processions. At least 231,000 dead since the outbreak of the health emergency.



Moscow (AsiaNews) - The Orthodox Church continues to lose figures of the highest spiritual value to Covid-19. Russia is grappling with a violent and endless wave of pandemic, with the population - especially the Orthodox clergy - showing a general resistance to the vaccination campaign.

The coronavirus has forced the Kazan diocese to cancel the solemn Nov. 4 procession in honor of the city's Madonna. It is the day of the feast of National Unity, linked precisely to the memory of the miraculous icon that led the people's armies against invaders in the early 17th century.

President Vladimir Putin has decided to suspend work from October 30 to November 7, with strong restrictions on any public demonstration, internal and external travel, and therefore also on family reunion visits. Russians are accustomed to the long vacation at the beginning of November: in Soviet times the revolution was celebrated on November 7, and the holiday of the 4th was chosen not to change this habit at the beginning of winter frosts. However, it will be very difficult to respect the lockdown measures, because in these days it is usual to share the celebrations in very wide and exuberant forms.

The new wave of the lung disease is taking away from the faithful many priests and monks in all regions. On October 27, a Patriarchate working group for measures against the coronavirus released very alarming data, memorializing several clerics who have passed away in recent days, at still relatively young ages.

On October 26, 49-year-old Father Sergij Oprja (see photo), parish priest of the Cathedral of the Assumption in Latonovo, in the Rostov region, died. The day before, 60-year-old "protoierej" Ioann Podvornjak, pastor of the Church of St. Nicholas in Utysevo, in the Siberian region of Tjumen, died. Several other priests have died in recent days, such as 74-year-old Fr. Aleksandr Mukhametov in Volgograd, 51-year-old hieromonk Kirill (Korolskij) of Kamchatka and 66-year-old protoierej Grigorij Sekretarev of the Pskov region.

Yesterday in Russia there were more than 39 thousand cases of infection, with 1,114 deaths. The official victims since the beginning of the pandemic are 231 thousand, although many believe these figures are much lower than the real ones. On Putin's orders, the government has intensified the vaccination campaign, which so far has reached just over 30% of the population. Much more aggressive messages will be spread, even without going as far as compulsory vaccination. In fact, many regions have instituted new lockdowns, closing schools and many public places, cinemas and theaters.

The president of the Constitutional Court, Valerij Zorkin, warned that "the restrictive measures taken by the authorities must be commensurate with the level of danger to society, and not lead to the violation of constitutional rights and freedoms. The virus claims victims especially among the elderly, but the number of infected people under 60 remains high.

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