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Patriarch Kirill threatens coronavirus-dissident clergy with church tribunals

Patriarch Kirill, the high priest of the Russian Orthodox Church, has lashed out at his own clergy, demanding better compliance with the state authorities’ containment measures against the spread of coronavirus.

In a new statement published on the Moscow Patriarchate's website, Kirill says the archpriests of churches and monasteries in the Moscow diocese bear personal responsibility for observing safety requirements during the coronavirus pandemic. The Patriarch also warns that priests who ignore his instructions will be brought before church tribunals. 

In late March, Patriarch Kirill called on parishioners to stay home from services, though he left it to diocese leaders to decide whether or not to close churches to the public.

On April 27, the Russian Orthodox Church indefinitely extended Patriarch Kirill’s request not to attend church services during the Holy Week before Easter.

A few dozen cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed among clergy members in Moscow, including Moscow Patriarchate Archbishop Dionysius. Archpriest Alexander Ageikin, the head of the Yelokhovo Cathedral, died from the disease on April 21.