Religious pilgrimages

There’s plenty of evidence that pilgrimages accelerate the spread of infectious diseases. The Kanwar pilgrimage in India, which attracts millions to the river Ganges, has led to some of the worst mass cholera outbreaks in history; the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca was blamed for a deadly outbreak of bacterial meningitis in 2000.

So it was “common sense” for the Romanian government to ban the recent annual pilgrimage to the city of Iasi, where tens of thousands of Christians from all over the country gather to pray at the tomb of Saint Parascheva. The authorities knew that, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, it could be a medical “catastrophe”.

But the Orthodox Church had other ideas. Having built up a “tourist empire” around the pilgrimage, it was loath to lose out on its annual cash injection, and encouraged worshippers to make the journey anyway. Thousands descended on the city, joining a reported 2.5-mile queue to reach the tomb. Some could even be heard chanting “Down with doctors!”.

Alas, an uptick in coronavirus infections is now sure to follow. The Romanian Orthodox Church claims to stand for “morality in society”; its irresponsible behaviour is truly disgraceful. (Alexandru Toma Patrascu, (Bucharest) and The Week, 24 October 2020)

My comment: Epicureanism is an inclusive, caring philosophy that advocates a pleasant life, caring for others as they care for you. There are too many people who see faith as a weapon to gain power, make money and influence the ignorant. The crass selfishness of a distressingly large number of people throughout the world when it comes to covid 19 illustrates what a huge amount of work there is remaining.

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