Patriarch of Istanbul Spreads Falsehoods About Covid, Under the Guise of Religion
By Harut Sassounian
In October 2021, the Patriarch of Istanbul, Sahag Mashalian, delivered at the Holy Hovhannes Church in the Kumkape district of Istanbul a very strange sermon full of conspiracies and fear-mongering statements. His anti-scientific and irresponsible words were intended to deter his parishioners from getting vaccinated against the coronavirus, thus endangering their lives.
In his sermon, the Patriarch quoted from chapter 13, verses 16-18 of the Book of Revelation in the Bible. I am not a theologian, but I believe he is misusing verses from the Bible to spread falsehoods and disinformation. The Book of Revelation, an enigmatic work by Apostle John, has many interpretations, but linking his writings to a virus that surfaced two thousand years after his death is senseless and dangerous, particularly in Turkey which has the sixth highest number of deaths in the world from the coronavirus.
The Patriarch began his sermon by referring to the following passage of the Book of Revelation: The beast “forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name…. That number is 666.”
Here are excerpts from the Patriarch’s bizarre sermon which I have translated into English:
“And whoever will not have this seal [of the beast] will not be able to do any business, will not be able to travel, [and] will not even be able to eat bread…. Therefore, placing a technology chip in our body, on our hand or our forehead, we understand that it is the symbol of perfect control. This means that wherever you go, they will know where you are. Whatever information exists about you will be in it [the chip]: your illnesses, your relationships, your condition, [and] your bank accounts. It will all be in it. Your health will be in it. And without it, you will not be able to do anything. And, of course, this will be presented to us as progress, as a technological advantage. And sometimes we will willingly take this chip.
“These are no longer theories. In certain European countries, this system has started. What will we do? What will we be? When the time comes, they will compel us to have such chips in which it’s written 666 or the name of that son of Satan. What will we do? Christians have always spoken about this topic as a musing that it will happen in the future. People in the future should think about it. But it has come now. It came to our doors. In a few years, at the latest in the year 2030, this development will become a reality.
“What will we Christians do? Our church leaders, the Primates, should speak about this issue which they do not. But the faithful at the bottom of the church speak because the prophecy is so explicit, the word of God is so clear that it is spoken about. And what will happen when the leaders of the church, the Primates, those with the rank of Bishop do not talk about it, when the people at the bottom speak about it, then this will be spoken about in an exaggerated and redundant manner? The church has a doctrine called eschatology. It is the knowledge of the last days. In our faith we say that Christ shall return. This is an integral part of our faith. Therefore, the doctrine of the church, in a clear manner, should elucidate this topic to the Christian communities.
“Christian leaders should get together and speak about this issue, while it is still early. After these things happen, it will be too late. We should now come together and talk. Church and bishopric meetings should be held about this topic now, while we are still free and have the ability. In a few years, we will not have that ability. As a Patriarch, I call upon my people and church leaders to get interested in this topic and blow the horn. Because in the Bible, for us, for Christian leaders, there is a dreadful statement. By the mouth of prophet Ezekiel God says: I appointed you a watchman over this people. If you see the sword, the danger, and do not sound the alarm, and the sword comes, then their blood will reach you. But if you sound the alarm and say that the sword is coming, take precautions, and if they do not do that, the sword comes, then you are free of their blood. Therefore, for Christian leaders, a topic that is redundant or exaggerated, when Christian leaders come together and speak about a topic that is considered shameful, can speak about it. I commend those who listen to us and my people within the reach of my voice: the day has come! We can no longer postpone the eschatology. We are obligated to apply the healthy doctrine in our days, spread the faith and acquire the means to see what we can do….”
To show that the Patriarch’s alarming words about vaccination are not based on theology, all we have to do is refer to the statement issued by the Catholicos of All Armenians, Karekin II, about the vaccine.
According to a recent dispatch by Azatutyun.am, “The Armenian Apostolic Church dismissed religious reasons given by its believers refusing to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.” The Church’s Supreme Spiritual Council stressed that “vaccination does not pose a spiritual danger.”
The Church also announced that Catholicos Karekin II and many other clergymen have been vaccinated.
I hope Armenians will listen to the advice of the Catholicos and not that of the Patriarch of Istanbul regarding the coronavirus vaccine to save their own lives as well as the lives of those around them.