“I'm scared, but I'm going”: who prevents priests from giving guidance to coronavirus sufferers
The Orthodox Church has ordered 21 priests to receive communion and practice in Moscow hospitals. All of them were taught how to wear a chemical protection suit over their cassocks, masks and everything else.
But the entrances to the hospitals for them are practically all closed, despite the requests of the relatives of those who are on the verge of life and death.
“There is a big problem - priests are not allowed to visit people in hospitals. Patients themselves ask them about it, their relatives ask, and, first of all, it is regarding the situation in Moscow. As a result, people die without the sacrament, those who led a church life, and this is certainly scary! Patients and relatives ask doctors, mainly department heads, doctors say: “No, and that's it!” Everyone in Moscow already knows about this, people call us and say: “We don’t call the ambulance, we are waiting for you”. Well, this is like the last trip, you understand? And certainly we do go to the people's homes, but we understand that we are most needed in hospitals, where the pain, sufferings and needs are most concentrated", - told us the spokesperson of the Synodic Department of the Russian Orthodox Church's charity Vasiliy Rulinsky.
People, according to Vasily Rulinsky, pass away in fear, isolated from all relatives, "when doctors are not coming to them for three hours". There are difficulties with the funeral service - bodies are not always handed out, the funeral service occurs with the coffin closed, which is a violation of Orthodox traditions, with a very small number of people - the authorities do not allow everyone who wants to do this to say goodbye to their relatives.
In most European countries, about which our TV is lying by stating that the immorality is prevailing there, the doors of hospitals are open for priests, and this cannot but worry our ministers of the Orthodox Church, says Vasily Rulinsky:
"In the West - in France, in the UK - there are hospital chaplains. Now in the West, chaplains are quietly working along with the doctors, of course, everyone is using protection means. The patient’s spiritual state is very important, and everyone understands it. And there are no cases of infection less than ours. Why we can’t do this is a mystery to me, a riddle! In other regions, at least they somehow allow it, in Moscow there’s no way at all!"
Archpriest John Kudryavtsev is one of those few who visit patients with coronavirus both in hospitals and at home. He is 53 years old, married, he has children, but he, like most doctors, refused to communicate with his family:
“What do I feel when I go to the sick? I’m also a person, I’m not a saint. I also feel fear for myself and for my children. I try to stay away from my family - I’m in Moscow, and they are in the country. "It reassures me, but there is also God's providence! I see some signs that the Lord is calling me to this ministry, I cannot refuse it. Well, if the Lord is calling me, then he will take care of me".
The priest admitted that he defeats fear and lack of faith by spiritual help to those suffering from a deadly disease. During a visit to one of the hospitals, he managed to see tears of joy on the faces of dying people.
Starting from April 7, John visits patients 2-3 times a week, about 5-6 people a day receive spiritual support from him. In total, the Orthodox priest managed to visit about 700 people, but believes that this is not enough:
“Of course, for Moscow it’s a drop in the ocean! We’ve already begun to get used to it - it’s like in a war: at first it’s scary, then you get used to putting on a protective suit, but the feeling of tension and the fact that you are in the war remain. This war is not only medical - it's a spiritual war".
Priests say that lately people have felt weakened in faith, God-given. Especially disappointing believers is that now you can’t go to temples. And the hospital, therefore, is the last place for them to meet with the priest, to meet with God.
The authorities are in no hurry to support priests and believers in this spiritual "war".
Of the 21 clergymen who received the blessing of visiting seriously ill coronavirus, someone has already contracted the coronavirus, someone has stopped this activity for other reasons. All in all, 12 people remained in service.