Russian Orthodox hierarchs have joined the ranks of COVID-19 conspiracy theorists, going so far as to warn that the pandemic could herald the coming of the Antichrist.

– Moscow Patriarchate head of external Church relations: COVID-19 could be “bio-psychological warfare”

One of the Moscow Patriarchate’s most powerful figures – the chairman of its Department for External Church Relations, Metropolitan Hilarion – told the Rossija-24 TV channel May 23 that there was a danger that excessive talk of the coronavirus could lead to a deterioration in people’s mental health and a subsequent weakening of their immune system.

That much is true, with the United Nations, for example, also warning earlier this month in a policy briefing of the detrimental effects of the pandemic on people’s mental balance.

However, Hilarion went a step further, and claimed that those adverse effects on mental health could be exactly what agents unknown were hoping for with the release of the virus.

“There is [with COVID-19], alongside the hypotheses of biological warfare, also the possibility of a bio-psychological warfare, when trying to instill fear in the population, to control it in a more radical way”, Hilarion said, as he was quoted by AsiaNews.

The external relations head of the Moscow Patriarchate insisted that because of the risk that the virus is a an artifact of bio-psychological war, there is a special need for citizens to keep up their physical strength and also their spiritual strength as well.

“In order to defeat the virus, we all need a very strong immunity, and this immunity is acquired by us not only on the physical level, but also on the spiritual level, in the strength of mind”, Hilarion explained.

– Metropolitan Irinej of Orsk: pandemic “another step towards total control of every individual”

Another Russian Orthodox bishop indulging in COVID-19 conspiracy theories is Metropolitan Irinej of Orsk, who according to AsiaNews published on the diocesan website a text reflecting on the eschatological – or ‘end times’ – aspects to the pandemic, which he warned could include the coming of the Antichrist.

“After the 666 tax codes, credit cards, e-money and other similar things, today we see with the excuse of the virus another step towards total control of every individual”, Irinej thundered.

“In the controlled data the economic and social life of each person will be decided, without it, it will not be possible to live.

“Probably the next measure will be the installation of a chip directly under the skin, to check not only the health, but also the emotions and actions of the people”, the hierarch alerted.

– Concerns over ethnic genetic profiling

The World Russian People’s Assembly – a public association led by Kirill, the Patriarch of Moscow, and with consultative status at the UN – called May 18 on Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office and Investigative Committee to probe “the circumstances that led to the appearance and spread […] of the COVID-19 virus pandemic worldwide and in Russia, including those which led to death and to the infliction of harm to the health of Russian citizens”.

The authors of the Assembly appeal – whose point of view Metropolitan Hilarion said he shares – are concerned about the possibility that the coronavirus may have been manufactured deliberately and spread maliciously around the globe: a state of affairs they said has been worsened by the tide of ‘fake news’ on the virus on the Russian internet.

Other worrying aspects to the coronavirus are the centralisation of the development and production of vaccines against the illness and the creation of a genetic databse which could be used to target people of certain ethnicities in the future, the People’s Assembly alleged.

Though experts at the Wuhan Institute of Virology have now reportedly put the lie to an earlier theory that the virus emerged from a live animal market, the ‘Five Eyes’ network of intelligence agencies in the UK, US, Australia, New Zealand and Canada has likewise discredited the theory – held to by US President Donald Trump, among others – that the virus originated in a Chinese research laboratory.

More COVID-19 conspiracy theories, on Novena:

Moldovan Orthodox Church accuses Bill Gates of “Antichrist” plot to develop COVID-19 vaccine, control people with 5G

Church historian rips cardinals’ COVID-19 conspiracy claim: “It’s so ridiculous that it discredits itself”

Cardinal Müller cries persecution after blowback from COVID-19 conspiracy

German Bishops take down Cardinal Müller over coronavirus conspiracy rant

German vicar general lashes out at cardinals over “outrageous right-wing populist rhetoric” in COVID-19 conspiracy theory

Prospect of one “world government” after COVID-19 divides Catholic conservatives, progressives


PhD in ancient Jewish/Christian history and philosophy. University ethics lecturer with 4 years' experience in religion journalism.