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NOTIFICATION ABOUT ENCYCLICAL № 2819

 

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Thursday, 20 June 2013

 

In response to recent publications about a Church Encyclical concerning organ donation, we would like to notify faithful Christians and every citizen concerned about the following:

1. Encyclical no 2819 “About donating body organs” is a circular issued by the Permanent Holy Synod and not a decision made by the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Orthodox Church of Greece. In order for a decision to be valid and applicable, about major, dogmatic issues relating to Orthodox anthropology, it should be confirmed by the plenary session of the Assembly of Bishops, in other words by all the 82 in office Bishops. This is not the case for Encyclical no 2819, which is signed by the then members of the Permanent Holy Synod.

2. Permanent Holy Synod encyclicals are signed by the Permanent Holy Synod as a body, that is, they are signed by all Permanent Holy Synod members, both those who agree and those who disagree.

3. Prompted by the late Archbishop of Greece, Christodoulos, all bishops became automatically donors, yet without submitting any statements and without having the opportunity to declare that they agree with organ donation, on certain conditions: namely, on condition that the life of the donor is not harmed and, in the case of a healthy donor donating one of the paired organs, on condition that no health problem arises for the donor.

4. In Encyclical no 2819 it is rightly highlighted: “If something harms the soul or downgrades spiritual values, [the Church] unhesitatingly rejects it”. Taking organs from a patient who has been characterized “brain dead”, undoubtedly downgrades spiritual values and harms the soul.

5. In Encyclical no 2819 it is rightly pointed out: “The Church is interested in the recipient, but it wishes to protect the donor. For no reason and in no way does the Church sacrifice the donor for the recipient to survive”. And since the donor “will soon die”, in other words they are alive, their whole existence depends on the Lord of life and death. That is the reason why the Church, according to encyclical no 2819, “does not yield to political expediency, nor does it ally itself with secularizing elements”. Thus, according to its mission, the Church has the duty to protect the value of human life and to repeat the view of the holy Fathers, that good is good only when it is done in a good way.

6. Ignorance about the non-equation of “brain death” with final, biological death seems to have led to erroneous hypotheses and statements.

7. Although in the past His Eminence Bishop Paul was not fully aware of the difference between “brain death” and biological death, after he was thoroughly informed and after studying extensively, he proceeded to publish an informative volume on the issue of organ transplantations in 2009 and to organize an Open Information Day in 2012. In that meeting, distinguished scientists, doctors and theologians demonstrated that the so-called “brain death” is not death. The presentations of the 2012 meeting, most of the articles of the volume on transplantations, as well as more recent articles on bioethics and organ transplantations, are posted on the website of the Holy Metropolis of Glyfada. It is our duty to keep ourselves informed about such significant issues.

 

From the Holy Orthodox Metropolis of Glyfada

 


 

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