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FAKE NEWS: Iohannis and Patriarch Daniel made a secret deal to have the Church support coronavirus vaccination in exchange for relaxing restrictions on religious services.

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©EPA-EFE/BOGDAN CRISTEL  |   Orthodox Easter during coronavirus lockdown in Romania

FAKE NEWS: Iohannis and Patriarch Daniel made a secret deal to have the Romanian Orthodox Church (ROC) support coronavirus vaccination in exchange for relaxing restrictions on religious services.

Patriarch Daniel's urging Romanians to get vaccinated is the result of "secret deals" between him and the head of state, Klaus Iohannis, after the meeting they had in February. The fact that the Easter services were allowed this year would be the result of a trade-off between the Church and the Presidency, so that the ROC priests become promoters of vaccination.

NEWS: "The famous journalist Ion Cristoiu recalls an unusual episode – the “secret” meeting between President Iohannis and Patriarch Daniel - reiterating it in the "Easter" context of vaccination […] Obviously, it’s about restrictions, and the “difference is striking”.  This year “not only were the Resurrection services allowed but, since Friday, the Romanians had the impression that the Pandemic had gone away, writes  Sputnik .

"The mandatory wearing of masks and physical distancing were officially kept in place. Unofficially, though, they were pushed into the background", Cristoiu writes, noting that the press, used by the regime during the Pandemic as a petty informant, pretended not to see that the rules were being broken[...] How are these differences explained? Well, Cristoiu puts it bluntly: “(…) the difference can be attributed to the new policy of the Iohannis regime. The essence of this policy is the following: The pandemic exists only as long as alarming figures on Covid infections and deaths are broadcast on TV ", the quoted source also writes.

And pay attention to Ion Cristoiu's key observation: "From a historical point of view, the moment of change in the attitude towards the Church was the visit paid by Klaus Iohannis to Patriarch Daniel on February 16, 2021."

"We would be happy to believe that the visit was a sign of the State giving in to the Church," the journalist wrote, without leaving, though, the paradigm of skepticism: “as connoisseurs of poli-tricks, we believe that the visit was actually a trade-off of the sort: I give you something, you give me something.”

NARRATIVES: 1. The Romanian Orthodox Church urges the population to get vaccinated as a result of secret agreements between Iohannis and Patriarch Daniel. 2. Pro-vaccination priests are not worthy to serve God.

LOCAL CONTEXT / ETHOS: In his May 1 speech, when the Holy Light was brought from Jerusalem, Patriarch Daniel sent a message that people should be vaccinated in order to return to normalcy as soon as possible, as it happened in Israel, where over 60% of the population has been vaccinated and authorities have lifted most restrictions.

This was the first pro-vaccination signal sent from the top of the ROC, which alerted the anti-vaccination clergy, led by the Archbishop of Tomis, Theodosius. Also, the press affiliated to the "anti-vax" groups, but also the one that constantly resonates with all the major themes of Russian propaganda in Romania, got activated after the statement made by Patriarch Daniel.

Moreover, invited on a show on the Digi24 TV station, the ROC spokesman, Vasile Bănescu, stated on May 2 that vaccination, which is a medical act, should not be compared with the Holy Communion, which is related to the spiritual plan. He said those anti-vaccine clerics who claimed that "the authentic and best vaccine is Holy Communion" have demobilized many believers.

In reply, on Antena 3 station, Archbishop Teodosie criticized Bănescu, calling him a "layman who cannot understand a believer", and "Christ is the supreme doctor". Moreover, he gave the example of Saint Basil the Great, who "died when God wanted, not when the doctor wanted."

PURPOSE: The purpose is to put pressure on the priests and religious denominations in Romania that urge their believers to get vaccinated, and to attack the promoters of vaccination within the ROC.

WHY THE NARRATIVES ARE FALSE: Journalist Ion Cristoiu does not bring any evidence that there is an agreement between President Klaus Iohannis and Patriarch Daniel for the Church to support the vaccination campaign, he only speculates.

Even if there were such a deal between Iohannis and Patriarch Daniel, it would be neither illegal nor immoral, and would inevitably lead to the saving of human lives and a quicker return to normality.

The meeting between the two took place three months ago, and since then Patriarch Daniel has made no reference to vaccination. The relaxation of restrictions for the Easter celebrations also came against a background of declining national infection rates. Romania has already vaccinated over 3.5 million citizens with one or two doses and hopes to reach 5 million by the end of this month, which would be somewhere around 30% of the total population.

In fact, not only Israel lifted many of the restrictions due to a successful vaccination campaign, but also other countries such as the United Kingdom, where more than half of the adult population, which is more than 10 million people, have taken both jabs, and 33 million received the first dose. Towards the end of April, in the USA, the percentage of those vaccinated with two doses stood at 26%, and those vaccinated with the first dose account for 40% of the population.

Instead, Russia, a country that drives, maintains and supports the anti-vax movement worldwide, including in Romania, has vaccinated only 7% of the population, meaning that about 20 million Russians have received the first or both doses of vaccine. Moreover, Russia is a vaccine-producing country and exports large quantities, despite the fact that the number of infections and deaths is still relatively high in that country.

GRAIN OF TRUTH: President Klaus Iohannis and Patriarch Daniel did have a formal meeting in February. The agenda of talks was not made public.

THE NARRATIVES BENEFIT anti-vaxxers and those who use the church to defend conspiracy theories devised by Moscow about the fight against Covid-19 vaccination. 

Tags: Russia, Anti-vaxxers, Sputnik
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  • Publication / Media:
    sputnik.md
  • Date of publication:
    04/05/2021
  • Language / Target audience:
    anti-vaxxers
  • Amplification:
    Activenews, Mediafax
  • Political affiliation:
    The Kremlin
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  • Patriarch Daniel's urging Romanians to get vaccinated is the result of "secret deals" between him and the head of state, Klaus Iohannis, after the meeting they had in February. The fact that the Easter services were allowed this year would be the result of a trade-off between the Church and the Presidency, so that the ROC priests become promoters of vaccination.
  • NARRATIVES: 1. The Romanian Orthodox Church urges the population to get vaccinated as a result of secret agreements between Iohannis and Patriarch Daniel. 2. Pro-vaccination priests are not worthy to serve God.
  • PURPOSE: The purpose is to put pressure on the priests and religious denominations in Romania that urge their believers to get vaccinated, and to attack the promoters of vaccination within the ROC.
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