The first meeting of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church this year was held in the Danilov Monastery under the chairmanship of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia on April 13, 2021. At the beginning of the meeting, the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church addressed the members of the Synod with an opening speech, in which he spoke about the life and work of the Russian Orthodox Church during the period of the coronavirus pandemic.
“What is taking place now is indeed a pandemic, in the sense that this infection is indeed everywhere. Therefore, I believe that the measures related to visiting churches were taken by the Hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church in a timely manner, and this prevented the emerging tendency to accuse, as it often happens, the Church of being a source of the spread of infection,” said His Holiness Patriarch Kirill.
“We in no way question the healing power of the Holy Mysteries of Christ! And the proof is the fact that after communion our deacons consume the Holy Mysteries from the common Chalice, and not one of them got sick and will never get sick. And where there are no deacons, there are priests, including your unworthy Patriarch and Primate, when he celebrates the Divine Liturgy in his cross church,” added the Patriarch.
He expressed the hope that “this difficult temptation” (the pandemic) will pass, and the Church will return to a life that will not be darkened by the spread of a dangerous infection. “But the experience we went through, I think, has enriched us all. It helped us understand the greatest happiness that each of us has by participating in divine services in a church filled with people,” added His Holiness Patriarch Kirill.
“Brothers, let us continue our prayers and our labors, strictly fulfilling all the necessary sanitary regulations and supporting our people in the fulfillment of these instructions, so that, trusting in the will of God, we would strive for the time when this test will end and we will be able to perform divine services again as it is customary in our Church, and testify to the mercy of God, which will undoubtedly be manifested by the end of the pandemic and the beginning of a peaceful and calm time. Our prayers are about this today,” the Patriarch said.
The Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church also provided basic statistical data concerning the life and work of the Russian Orthodox Church during the period of the coronavirus pandemic (journal No. 1).
As of early April 2021, 73 diocesan clergy and monastics of stauropegic monasteries continue to be treated in Russia, 16 in Belarus, 151 and 19 clergy died from the infection or related complications, respectively. More than 5,200 clerics have been ill and recovered.
His Holiness Patriarch Kirill pointed out that during the period of the pandemic, social ministry has intensified in the Church. Since the beginning of the pandemic, in most dioceses, additional food and material assistance has been organized for those in need. In addition, shelters for mothers and humanitarian aid centers created by the Church in recent years have been in special demand during the pandemic.
With the help of 26.3 million rubles collected by the Synodal Department for Church Charity and Social Service, more than 23 thousand food packages were purchased and handed over to those in need in 72 dioceses in Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, East Timor and the Philippines.
After the message of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, the members of the Synod expressed their gratitude to His Holiness for his wise care of the Russian Orthodox Church in the context of the pandemic of the coronavirus infection and related restrictions, thanked all clergy, monastics and laity, who have worked hard and are still working in the field of helping people, especially those who are in difficult life situation in connection with the spread of the disease, as well as called on bishops, clergy, monastics and laity to offer fervent prayers for the repose of brothers and sisters who have died from the consequences of the coronavirus infection and for the consolation of their relatives and loved ones and to continue to offer prayers to the Lord for deliverance from this harmful disease.