Ending months of feverish speculation, the patriarch of Romania’s powerful Orthodox Church, Daniel, on Wednesday announced that he has been vaccinated against Covid-19.
Some Orthodox bishops and priests have expressed an openly anti-vaccine message and have encouraged believers to flout pandemic restrictions.
Church spokesman Vasile Banescu has publicly come out in support anti-Covid-19 vaccines and called on believers to listen to medics’ advice. But there were lingering questions about the patriarch’s position and whether he had a jab.
Daniel is the nearest thing Romania has to a monarch, and has an aura of mystery and authority combined with otherworldly wisdom. Some 87% of Romanians are Orthodox Christians.
Patriarch Daniel was asked on Wednesday whether he had been inoculated against Covid-19 after a parliamentary session dedicated to Romania’s National Day on December 1.
Asked whether he had a message for believers he said. “We don’t have a message, listen to medics,” , News.ro reported.
”The official position of the church is the same. Every believer should take advice from their family doctor. We don’t have personal opinions,” he added.
Church spokesman Vasile Bănescu later added to the patriarch’s message.
“I can say officially that the patriarch has confirmed to the press in brief remarks as he left Parliament the church’s favorable position on the vaccine as a medical act in itself which is beneficial, something which is already well known.”