Metropolitan Hilarion
© Sputnik/Sergey Pyatakov
Metropolitan Hilarion, Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, during the Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow.
Those who refuse to be vaccinated against Covid-19 are committing a sin they will have to repent for the rest of their lives. That's according to the Russian Orthodox Church, whose spokesman said rejecting a jab is selfish.

Speaking to TV channel Russia 24, the head of the Russia Orthodox Church's Department for External Church Relations, Metropolitan Hilarion, explained that his parishioners regularly repent to him for not being vaccinated. They feel guilty because they passed the virus on to someone else who eventually died, he claimed.
"They come and say, 'How am I supposed to live with this now?' And it's hard for even me to say how to live with it. All your life, you have to make up for the sin you committed. The sin is thinking about yourself instead of thinking about other people. We are responsible - each of us - not only for ourselves and not only for our loved ones, but also for all those who come into contact with us."
In recent months, the Church has been more vocal about its support for the government's vaccination program. Metropolitan Hilarion has regularly spoken on TV about the need to follow the rules and take precautions to avoid infection. In June, the cleric revealed his "positive attitude" towards the government initiative to impose compulsory vaccination on those working in the service sector.
"Of course, it is desirable to observe the principle of voluntariness in relation to vaccinations - the principle that was stated from the very beginning. But there is also the principle of people's responsibility for the lives of other people."
Russia is currently in the midst of a new wave of Covid-19. On Monday, the authorities announced that there had been 24,353 new cases - a considerable rise from the 9,145 recorded on June 5, just one month ago. The increase in infections is being put down to the emergence of the Delta variant within the country, leading to Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin imposing restrictions on cafes, bars, and restaurants in the capital.