Monday, September 13, 2021

Homo homini lupus est.

(SOC-AU) - An archpastoral reflection on the current situation in Australia.

 “But He answered and said to them, 

I tell you that if these should keep silent, 

the stones would immediately cry out!” (Luke 19:40)

To Whom It May Concern,


I am compelled by my conscience as Bishop of the faithful entrusted to me, to address by way of this open letter my deep concerns regarding the situation our Nation has spiraled into during this current health crisis, which we fear is becoming more of a crisis of humanity than that of health itself.

The Latin proverb Homo homini lupus est, "A man is a wolf to another man," has tragically found its new form and expression in today’s crisis as: Homo homini virus est! 

Man has become a virus to his fellow man in this ever-changing world and dystopian looking society. This is not hyperbole; it is happening right now around us. Just look at our workplaces, formerly places of collegiality and friendship, now rapidly digressing into segregation, suspicion, bullying and ridicule of those who have not yet received the green tick! 

A vivid example of this was presented to me by one of our faithful in possession of a medical exemption, who has been labelled a health risk by their colleagues and has ever since been treated with contempt and discrimination, as if they were a leper, a walking virus.

This type of behaviour would previously be deemed unacceptable, however in the ‘new normal’ of today’s dystopian society it is subtly encouraged through media hysteria which is fueling mass psychosis, in which fear and anxiety, mistrust and segregation have become the new Gospel! 

The policy of “no jab, no job”, has had and continues to have an impact on the well-being and mental health of many who feel that they have been pushed into a corner and forced to take the vaccine without the right to informed consent and right of conscience. This should not be happening anywhere in the world, especially in a democracy such as Australia.  People have a legitimate right to be concerned and to ask questions regarding these particular vaccines, as they are still dubbed to be in their clinical trial phase, as recently stated by the Australian Minister for Health.  

These measures, or workplace policies, have created many social and existential anxieties that have impacted the community. 

No blackmail or coercion, including that of vaccination is morally acceptable. Without freedom of choice there is no humanity. 

Orthodox Christianity professes that the human person is created in the image and likeness of God and that the central quality or attribute of this Image is the gift of free will, the ability to make an informed and free choice. 

For example, following Christ in the Orthodox Church is ontologically significant because following Christ leads to formation, i.e., human transformation and completion = perfection = salvation. However, through the lens of Orthodox soteriology this is a synergetic act(ion) which entails a free disposition on humanity’s part. Christ himself says: “If anyone DESIRES to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24). Christ leaves us with a choice, does not cancel out human freedom to choose, does not impose salvation. 

St Irenaeus also echoes this: 

“…because God made man a free agent from the beginning, possessing his own power, even as he does his own soul, to obey the behests of God voluntarily, and not by compulsion of God. 

For there is no coercion with God, but a good will towards us is present with Him continually. And therefore does He give good counsel to all. In man, as well as the angels, He has placed the power of choice…” 

- St. Irenaeus, Against the Heresies, IV, 37, I

This should not be equivocated to an anti-vax position, but rather one of informed consent, also considering any ethical concerns that those of faith might have.

Orthodox Christians, for example, have a moral issue accepting vaccines that have been developed from cell lines that were obtained from tissues harvested from aborted fetuses. The issue of ethical concerns for such vaccines was raised last year by some of the major Christian jurisdictions in Australia, such as the Roman Catholic, the Anglican and Greek Orthodox Archdioceses. 

Therefore, the moral concerns of Christians should be taken into consideration, as they are not simply subjective views, but derive from the fundamental positions and core beliefs of the Church. 

That is why our faithful may appeal to this, our Archpastoral letter, and other statements of the Orthodox Church as to why they are unable to receive these particular vaccines.

I would also like to mention as a great concern the alarming prospects of the introduction of Vaccine Passports. I believe that this will lead to a two-tiered society, it will divide people, families, and friends and will provide a basis for acts of discrimination and ostracization.   

In relation to this, media reports have also mentioned that “Churches will be required to use Vaccination Certificate Systems for Vaccinated-ONLY Worship”?!?

This is totally foreign to the Spirit of the Church, to the ecclesiology, the Holy Gospel and Tradition of the Church. We could never accept or adopt such a practice! It would entail discrimination against those who are members of the same Body, The Body of Christ, His Holy Church. How can we go against the Gospel? Against Christ who exclaims: “Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mathew 11:28).

We cannot accept the polarisation of the faithful, it goes against the very nature of the Church and we will not be implementing this system in our churches.

The Church embraces all who seek Christ, those vaccinated and unvaccinated. It will seek to heal a wounded and heavy-laden society, not inflict new wounds and burdens. 

I pray that Christ illumines and heals us all, this society immersed in the darkness of sorrow and anxiety, that we may perceive our fellow neighbours, not as a virus, but as those fashioned in His image and likeness. 


With Archpastoral love and blessings,


+ S I L U A N

Bishop of the Metropolitante of Australia and New Zealand

The Serbian Orthodox Church


  1. the bishop of one of our oca dioceses forbade the faithful from even *asking* one another about their vaccination status. the spirit of division is strong these days.

  2. If you deny ME before man "I" will deny you before my FATHER. Now,this is a bishop of the "one holy catholic and apostolic church". This is how ALL hierarchy should react for the church that Christ paid a high price for.
    holy and apostolic church"

  3. How do you say "Lockean moralist dressed up as Orthodox Hierarch" in Latin? This attempt to piece together liberal "rights" anthropology with St. Irenaeus is particularly cringe-worthy. For all his education, Bishop Siluan sure is capable of crude anachronistic reasoning when it comes to mixing and matching Christianity with the spirit of the age.

    As a card carrying member of the NRA but not a Classical Liberal, a fable comes to mind:

    Subdeacon Christopher decides one day to purchase a firearm, which is of course his right before conscience, Nature's God, and the consent of the governed. He does not bother to train himself on the safe and effective ownership/use/maintenance of the firearms as he is a busy man.

    One Sunday liturgy, just as he is handing the censor to off to his priest, his firearm falls out of his cassock unto the floor where it discharges sending a 9mm 147 grain Gold Dot round through the iconostasis (just nicking the Virgin's veil as a matter of fact), and over the heads of the parishioners, starting with the faithful 72 year old founding member Elizabeth, who always stands just in front of the Virgin.

    Fr. Anthony "Christopher, why did you bring firearm to Holy Liturgy, without even knowing how to turn on the safety or properly carry it?!"

    Subdn Christopher "It is my right - the Constitution says so, and it is my choice - both the Enlightenment and St Irenaeus agree..."

    Fr. Anthony "Christopher, even within a Classical Liberal worldview, there is a *balance*, always in uncomfortable tension, between individual rights and the responsibilities of the individual to the community... {Fr. Anthony is cut off}

    Subdn Christopher "Fr Anthony, who are you to discriminate and ostracize those who, made in the image of God, carry firearms? Do you live in FEAR Fr. Anthony?!?"

    Fr Anthony "Christopher, it is not a questions of your rights, but of your duty to others, not to mention basic firearm safety. As St. Paul explains the choice we have is to in love be a *slave* to God and our neighbor...{again Fr. Anthony is cut off}"

    Subdn Christopher "Fr Anthony, it is obvious to me that you are immersed in the darkness of sorrow and anxiety. Just by crossing the threshold of this Holy Place, the Virgin, the presence of the Body and Blood, and its inherent Thrice Blessed Holy architecture protected Elizabeth and the rest of us from any consequences of my liberty and choice to send a bullet at 952fps through it. The Holy Canons and the Fathers confirm this as well. My prayers Fr Anthony is that one day you will repent and perceive me not as a irresponsible gun owner, but as fashioned in His image and likenes..."

    1. If the "vaccine" actually works, then people who get vaccinated have nothing to fear and your analogy breaks down.

      The truth is this "vaccine" does not actually work; it's more comparable to an allergy shot. It provokes a narrow immune system response which disappears in 5 to 8 months; even sooner for the immuno-compromised and elderly, whose immune systems are in terminal decline.

      In other words, it's a "leaky" vaccine, and actually counter-productive.

    2. "If the "vaccine" actually works...your analogy breaks down."

      Wrong. Your ignorant underbelly (when it comes to disease vector, virology, and epidemiology) is showing again.

      "it's a "leaky" vaccine, and actually counter-productive."

      Wrong, just wrong. Wrong from an epidemiological point of view, and wrong from whatever way you load the term "productive" from a Christian "economic"/praxis point of view.

      "The truth is this "vaccine" does not actually work...immune system response which disappears in 5 to 8 months"


    3. Israel is already prescribing fourth doses.

  4. Check out Bishop Siluan's biography here:

    Born of Serbian immigrant parents in Australia, a graduate of several theological institutes in Belgrade, Moscow, and Sydney, even writing a thesis entitled "The Anthropology of the Venerable Justin Popovic", and a masters thesis entitled "A Review of the new criticism of the Neo-patristic Synthesis: Insights from Father Justin Popovic".

    In spite of all that when push comes to shove, when he is called to practically (i.e. economically, Christianly) guide the Body in wisdom through a basic application of its theological and anthropological heritage, he fails. Instead of presenting an actual and coherent (Orthodox) anthropological and ethical reasoning, he sounds like a collegiate sophomore protesting on the grass about "discrimination", presupposing a crude Enlightenment "freedom" that he tries to bless by quoting St Irenaeus.

    Maybe overall Bishop Siluan is a good bishop, or a poor one, or maybe he is a Saint. One thing he is not is an reliable (let alone insightful) thinker on the distinction between the anthropology of this western civilization and Christianity, and thus how to *be* Orthodox in this secular age.

  5. My God, the judgment we will face...

  6. Agree with Jake that this misquoted St Ireneaus. But I agree with Bishop that churches should not be the ones turning people away based on vaccination status.

    But an interesting side theoretical question. It's not a perfect analogy.... But should an Orthodox Church have turned away Typhoid Mary?

    1. If masks and distancing are safe, then not attending is even safer, as the icons, the One Bread and One Cup, the antidoron, and the kiss of peace are apparently all vectors for infection. We are now up to the Mu variation, as the vaccine does not actually suppress the virus. Modern Christianity can complete its metamorphosis into a gnostic book club that meets virtually, if at all.

  7. "... turning people away based on vaccination status..."

    "...Modern Christianity can complete its metamorphosis into a gnostic book club that meets virtually, if at all...."

    Let's keep our eye on the ball - that is, Christ. A reasonable adjustment to this pandemic is not matter of an extreme's, anymore than building your church to comply with local code, or looking both ways when you cross the street, makes one a "gnostic" or philosopher of the age.

    Our local parish community (which itself is the fullness of the Church and Body) holds all services in person, and we have even stopped streaming. However everyone has to wear a mask, because as our bishop said its not feasible to "police" every persons vaccination status. Also, because we are in a relatively small space with poor HVAC/ventilation, we circulate the air with the use of fans - blowing outside air in and through the structure. This is darn inconvenient (especially to those who are vested) because its hot-hot-hot here in the desert southwest.

    We do all this basically for one regular member who is an anti-vaxer/anti-masker (though she is required to wear a mask in the presence of our community and so far has complied), and for visitors whom we have not yet had the chance to inquire as to their vaccination status. Yep, that's right, leadership is aware of each persons vaccination status as we do not agree with the sacrosanct Classically Liberal concept of "privacy". If circumstances were different (e.g. we were a larger parish) adjustments would have to be made, but they would happen.

    This is how real (familial household, parish, organization, etc.) "economy" works. If Bishop Siluan can and will structure his particular flocks response to the pandemic as he sees fit. Heck, he can even reject the checking of vaccination status on Classically Liberal grounds if he wants, but what he can't do (at least without being questioned) is asset an easy correlation between CLism and the Gospel. I doubt the good bishop would agree that CL "rights and privacy" as correlated with the Gospel when it comes to abortion, but that is the very ground liberals and progressive (both secular and Christian) justify it on.

    Orthodoxy has a Integrationalist problem - how to "be" Orthodox in a Classically Liberal secular society. Orthodox Integrationlist of BOTH the progressive tendency (for example the Fordham boys, those who argue for women's ordination, etc.) and the conservative/traditionalist side (i.e. these pietistic "traditionalists" who nevertheless are libertarian to the core) want to claim that there is a correlation of their liberal axioms and the Gospel. Both are in error, and both are failing to truly "be" Orthodox in this secular age.

    1. This is a true Bishop. We could use a few more like him.

    2. So economia now means forcing everyone in the parish to wear a mask during Divine Services? That sounds more like authoritarian worldliness to me. I would posit that true economia would be what most parishes are now doing, which is that folks are free to wear a mask if they so choose, but are not compelled.

  8. The reality is that without a vaccine or a prior infection that has cleared, one is "a walking [vector for the] virus". Given the long incubation period, it's possible a perfectly healthy looking and feeling person is carrying the virus. And because of how infectious the Delta variant is, it's safe to assume that regions with significant numbers of confirmed cases are likely to have far more unconfirmed cases.

    There would be no stigmatization were the unvaccinated as committed to social distancing and mask-wearing as they are to not being vaccinated. Qualms over whether these new vaccines are safe and effective (full authorication vs EUA) or moral issues regarding the use of stems cells originating from aborted fetuses are valid concerns. Marrying valid concerns like these with conspiracy theories, anti-intellectualism, and political-social posing is putting others at serious risk.

    I don't know the particulars of the public health response in Australia, but mandating vaccination or weekly testing balances rights with responsibilities. We as a country have never had a problem with vaccine mandates for children (e.g., red state MS has the strictest childhood vaccination requirements in the country) and for those in public service (e.g., military) and necessary industries (e.g., food, emergency services). And, much to the consternation of conservatives of both Parties the past 100+ years, we as a nation have been committed to workplace safety - neither employers nor co-workers can put others' lives at risk for either their ignorance (willful or otherwise) or their selfish, ultra-individualistic understanding of rights without responsibilities.

    There may be details I'm unaware of, but it's my understand the Oxford–AstraZeneca, Pfizer–BioNTech COVID-19, Moderna, and Janssen (J&J) COVID-19 vaccines have all received full approval in Australia. That said, Emergency Use Authorization isn't granted without significant testing.

    What's the conspiracy here, anyway, when all the elites who are supposedly trying to dupe people into taking a dangerous vaccine are the ones taking (and not dying from) the vaccine? What conspiracy is behind the vast majority of those dying of Covid every day - a the 9/11's worth of dead every two days, currently - are unvaccinated? Play Russian roulette with your own lives if you think 99 out of 100 are good odds of not dying from a preventable disease, but stay away from those who are concerned about you being a Typhoid Mary spreading the disease to our children and the elderly (those most likely to suffer break-through infections) and clogging up hospitals and ICUs for the rest of us.

    1. It's not a vaccine. Asymptomatic cases are not contagious. Masks are useless. Each vaccine has a link to fetal abortive tissue cells. The virus has a 99% survival rate. MRNA technology is untested for long term issues.

      Any one who wants an extra dose of this poison, can have mine. I'll pass.