On Wednesday, Hieromonk Makary Markish, the head of the internet project Batyushka Online, told us that only sectarians refuse necessary medical treatment, for all traditional religions hold that medical intervention is a good thing. Earlier, the Leninsky Raion Court in Ivanovo granted the Prokuratura’s demand that a blood transfusion for a girl should go ahead despite her father’s refusal on grounds of religious belief. Fr Makary noted:
We don’t need to involve the concept of “religion”. This belief (of the girl’s father: RIA Novosti) isn’t religious, it’s sectarian. It’s an attempt to put people in irons using pseudo-religion. We must rigorously draw a line between religions and sects. Unfortunately, the law hasn’t defined this border yet, although work on it is already in underway. We don’t know what religion the girl’s father professed. However, such a situation arose with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Their prohibition of medical procedures is one of their tricks to limit human freedom. In Orthodoxy, such a situation is impossible. For us, religious life is a mixture of human earthly life and the Heavenly Kingdom. In this context, we see that medicine is an honourable profession; it benefits both bodily health and the soul’s health. In principle, it simply isn’t contrary to religious beliefs.
18 January 2017