Freedom of religion during the pandemic to be discussed in OSCE event

Foto: INQUAM/Sabin Cirstoveanu

Romania is the most religious country in Europe, a recent study claimed. But the Romanian Orthodox Church had a mixed record during the pandemic, it added.

Religious rights during the pandemic will be discussed next week at a webinar organized by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.

Most religious country

The  recent study which called Romania “the most religious country in Europe” looks at the church’s behavior during the pandemic.

‘A case study of the Romanian Orthodox Church during the COVID-19 pandemic,’ is an academic paper authored by Stefan Dascalu, an Oxford research assistant and Prof. Michael B. Bonsall,  at Oxford’s Department of Zoology and four other academics. It was recently published by Frontiers in Public Health.

It concludes that the church has played a mixed role in the pandemic. It said the Romanian Orthodox Church was receptive to the vaccine campaign “but not totally.”

Conspiracy theories

Some cleric were publicly opposed to vaccination and urged believers to keep away from vaccine centers and even spread conspiracy theories, naming Archibshop of Tomis, Teodosie, a firebrand bishop on the Black Sea coast.

This and other pandemic-related topics and trends relating to religious freedoms across the region will be discussed by experts from international institutions, academic world and civil society, a statement said.

Religious freedoms

Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief is on the panel.  Romania’s Catalin Raiu, an international expert on religious freedoms and the relationship between the church and the state is a keynote speaker.

Liv Hernæs Kvanvig, Director of IPPFoRB / Head of Freedom of Religion or Belief Section of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee is a panelist.

Samirah Majumdar, Research Associate at the Pew Research Center is also on the panel.

The webinar will be held on 14 December entitled: Key trends impacting freedom of religion or belief. People who are interested in attending can register here.


“No human right is exercised in a vacuum and the OSCE area has seen many recent developments ranging from the expansion of new technologies and the COVID-19 health pandemic, to political, social, economic and legislative changes,” a statement says.

Ahead of the new year, “panelists will engage in some stock-taking and offer fresh insights from their respective areas of work.”

Frontiers in Public Health is a multidisciplinary open-access journal which publishes rigorously peer-reviewed research. It is at the forefront of disseminating and communicating scientific knowledge and impactful discoveries to researchers, academics, clinicians, policy makers and the public worldwide.

UPDATE. ‘Forget conspiracy theories, listen to medics’ Romania’s Orthodox Church tells faithful



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