Orthodox Churches and the COVID-19 Pandemic in Romania and Bulgaria

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputChapter


This chapter examines the social and political mobilisation of Orthodox churches in Romania and Bulgaria as regards the COVID-19 pandemic. It focuses on the social activism of religious and political bodies and the ways in which political leaders, Orthodox hierarchs, lower clergy, and the faithful observed health measures and national vaccination programmes in both the countries. It draws on public speeches, mass media reports, and sociological data in relation to religious mobilisation. Romania and Bulgaria stood out in the European Union as the countries with the lowest rates of vaccination uptake. The chapter argues that Orthodox churches have played an influential role regarding the ways in which the population adhered (or failed to adhere) to national health measures. In Romania, the church was divided between official and informal networks of social and political power, which led to an increase in the far-right movement. In Bulgaria, the church was closely associated with the government's stance towards supporting health measures and, in the long term, political protests became associated with the anti-vaccination programme.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOrthodox Christianity and the COVID-19 Pandemic
EditorsTornike Metreveli
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages29
ISBN (Electronic)9781003372776
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2023

Publication series

NameRoutledge Religion, Society and Government in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet States

Bibliographical note

This chapter has been made available under a CC-BY-NC-ND license [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/]. Funded by Lund University.


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