Philadelphia, March 29, 2021
Archbishop Mark of Philadelphia and Eastern America will allow no vaccine bullying in his parishes, but instead insists upon respecting the free choice of every parishioner.
According to a new directive from the hierarch of the Orthodox Church in America, no one is to be asked if they have received the vaccine, and vaccination cannot become a prerequisite for full participation in Church life:
As your Bishop, I insist each of you respect the conscience and privacy of your brothers and sisters in Christ. No one is to be asked if he or she has or has not received the injections. No one is to be denied full participation in the Divine Services or parish life regardless of his or her decision. No one should be judged or criticized one way or the other.
His Eminence recalls that, per the statement of the Canonical Assembly of Orthodox Bishops of North America from January 21, every Orthodox Christian is encouraged to consult their physician “to determine the appropriate course of action for you.” Thus, the Assembly does not require vaccinations.
“Each person must prayerfully consider what the correct course of action is,” Abp. Mark writes.
He notes that we must be mindful of those who have lost loved ones, but also of those who are “suffering from isolation, fear, anxiety, depression, substance abuse and loneliness” as a result of COVID restrictions.
“Let us continue the Fast focusing on drawing nearer to Christ the Source of Life and to one another,” His Eminence concludes.