Various Ukrainian media report that both the head of the Moscow Patriarchate of the Orthodox Church, Onufriy, and another high-ranking clergyman, Metropolitan Anthony, have both been secretly hospitalized with coronavirus. However, the church itself denies this information.
Publications Religious Pravda, TCH.Weekly, UNIAN, and The Weekly Mirror have all quoted sources saying that both Metropolitans Onufriy and Anthony underwent coronavirus tests anonymously, and have been hospitalized after confirmation – under false names.
The secrecy, if true, may be due in part to the Moscow Patriarchate’s denial of the coronavirus threat – unlike the now independent Kyiv Patriarchate churches and the Greek Catholic Church, Moscow Patriarchate churches stated that they will not be closing their doors for Easter Sunday, and high-ranking officials have stated that the ‘threat of sin’ is greater than that of the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the moment, the holy site of the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra, belonging to the Moscow Patriarchate, is one of the major hotspots for coronavirus infections in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv. Two monks from the Lavra have already passed away from the disease, and the Lavra’s prior, Pavlo, has also been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus.
Sources cited by Religious Prava say that Metropolitan Anthony left the clinic he was hospitalized in on April 17 to take part in a live broadcast of a Ukrainian talk show at the Lavra. Their sources also allege that Onufriy will most likely not be conducting the Easter liturgy this year.
But when hromadske reached out to a Moscow Patriarchate representative, he denied the news. “We don’t comment on nonsense. The Metropolitan will conduct today’s services. Most likely at his own resident, as there’s a quarantine, but the location is still being decided,” said representative Metropolitan Clement.
The church’s press service also denies the information, insisting that Onufriy and Anthony are both healthy and preparing for Easter services. Onufriy will be conducting Easter services from his own home shrine, explaining that the church has decided this to avoid “a mass of faithful who annually want to attend the Easter liturgy headed by the Primate of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church [Moscow Patriarchate].”
The press service added that Metropolitan Anthony, who fulfills the role of Chancellor at the church, is currently at the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra and is preparing himself for Easter services. According to their statement, Anthony will be leading services from one of the shrines in the Lavra.