No. 33 - 02/2022:
Impacts of the Pandemic on the Churches

edited by Tornike Metreveli


Editorial by Tornike Metreveli
Digitalization of Ecclesiastical Practice in the Pandemic by Thomas Schlag

The international CONTOC study investigates which digital church formats were developed during the first wave of the Corona pandemic in spring and early summer 2020, and how pastors experience and assess the accelerated digitalization of church activities. First results indicate, on the one hand, a strengthening of participatory structures through the digital worship practice, but on the other hand a “top down” staging can also be observed. Did the new digital forms of communication bring about a change in ecclesial action in the German-speaking world during the first wave of the Corona pandemic, which began in the spring of 2020? What conclusions do pastoral personnel draw from their own experiences of this time with regard to worship, pastoral, diaconal and educational activities as well as with regard to their professional role and self-image? Will church activities be clearly transformed in the medium and long term towards more digital formats on the basis of these experiences and assessments?

Impacts of the Pandemic on the Georgian Orthodox Church by Tornike Metreveli

The goal of this article is to examine the nature of interaction between the Georgian Orthodox Church (GOC) and the state during the pandemic. The article shows how the church’s gradual acknowledgement of the deadly character of the virus coincided with a strict adherence to certain highly risky religious practices (such as communion from the same spoon), while the Georgian government’s stance in defence of public health was unsystematic and accommodative to the church’s pressure.

Church Competition During the Pandemic: the Case of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church by Timofiy Brik

The collapse of the USSR resulted in religious revivals in all former republics, including Ukraine. Religion provided security and emotional support. It legitimized political elites, while some churches also offered public goods, substituting the state. With time, religion became a crucial component of the national identities. Despite many similarities to other primely Orthodox countries, Ukraine has been unique in its religious landscape. Several Orthodox jurisdictions have competed for the status of the national church, which allowed religious fragmentation in all regions of Ukraine. This paper shows the importance of religious pluralism in Ukraine during the pandemic in 2020 and 2021.

Covid-19 and the Russian Orthodox Church by Cyril Hovorun

The global pandemic caused by COVID-19 has affected in nuanced ways various religious niches and subcultures. This article explores some reactions to the pandemic as they have been developed and articulated in the Russian Orthodox Church. These reactions are diverse and often not public. On the upper level of the church’s leadership, the official standpoint of the Russian hierarchy is usually coherent with the official policies of the Russian state. On the lower levels, lay persons, priests, and even bishops often disobey the official line and propagate opposition to the anti-COVID-19 measures.

The Serbian Orthodox Church in the Face of the Covid-19 Pandemic by Milan Vukomanović

The goal of this article is to highlight the religious dimensions of the Covid-19 pandemic in Serbia through sociological interpretation of the institutional role of the Serbian Orthodox Church (SOC), including the process of the adjustment of clergy and believers to pandemic circumstances. Such an adjustment involves religious discourse, ritual practice, community and institution. A greater attention is thus dedicated to the uniqueness of the church institution in its relation to a broader social community, especially with regard to the discrepancies between the church practices and official state measures and restrictions. This also implies the necessity to mitigate tensions and prevent potential rifts between the religious and secular communities, or church and state.

The Ambivalent Attitude of the Catholic Church in Poland Towards the Covid-19 Pandemic by Grzegorz Ignatowski

Any pandemic is a serious infectious disease that spreads rapidly among people and occurs at the same time not only in one country but throughout the world. Its appearance has a destructive effect on diverse social life, including religious life. In the case of religious associations, the rules introduced by local authorities and governments restrict the physical access of believers to their communities, limit personal contacts with religious leaders and make it difficult to organize religious services and ceremonies. This is also the case of the pandemic caused by the SARS-Cov-2 virus. The article presents the restrictions introduced by state institutions after the announcement of the COVID-19 pandemic and the attitude of the Catholic Church in Poland to them. The issue of vaccination and the involvement of religious leaders in its popularization is discussed. The article also addresses the issue of the decline of Church recognition in the Polish community, which dates back to the time before the pandemic outbreak. Finally, it addresses the widely practiced taking of communion by hand and ecumenical engagement during the pandemic. The former can be a serious problem in combating the spread of the virus, while the latter is again not so important for a sizable group of Catholics who take a traditional approach to their faith in pandemic times.

Full text of issue

Euxeinos 33

Impacts of the Pandemic on the Churches edited by Tornike Metreveli