Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Clergy Conference

The Ministry of Orthodox Clergy in Contemporary Society

Fr. Anastasios D. Salapatas

Clergy Conference of the Sacred Archdiocese of Thyateira & G.B.
Birmingham, 27-28 April 2009

[A Summary of the Speech]

A. Contemporary Society

- Definition of the term “Contemporary Society”.
- E. Papanoutsos said: “We progressed in our era but we haven’t prospered”.
- Mrs Thatcher, during her time as Prime Minister, met in Oxford with a student. She asked her what is the subject of her studies and the student replied “Medieval History”. Then the iron Lady responded: “Oh, what a luxury!” The Leaders of the Great Powers have been supporting exclusively technology and economic growth in the last few decades, promoting globalization at any cost and leaving behind the traditional values and the traditional way of life.
- Thus the Contemporary Society is full with stress, insecurity, as well as with many needs and agonies.

B. The Art of Pastoral Care

Healing / Therapeutics

Prof. Fr. George Metallinos: “The main mission of the Priest is the work of the physician in the «Spiritual Clinic» of the Church”.
1. Liturgical Expression of our Church
- The liturgical agenda is more or less the same as before. What changes today is the new ways of approach and methodology.
- In modern times there is a call for discussion on liturgical matters, such as simplicity in the Services and in the uniform of the clergy, more involvement of the laity in the Services, translation of the liturgical texts etc.
- Inclusion, not exclusion, in the liturgical expression of the Church.

2. Pastoral Care for the sick
- New illnesses have appeared lately, affecting both the bodily and mental health.
- 1st International Conference of the Ecumenical Patriarchate on “Pastoral Health Care”, in Rhodes, 8-12 October 2008. I had taken part representing our Archbishop and the Archdiocese of Thyateira. Recently there was an announcement that a new initiative will be taken by the Patriarchate to establish an “International Network for the Pastoral Health Care”.
- Bio-medical Ethics. The modern progress of the medical (and related) sciences have brought into our lives challenges and created many dilemmas, such as cloning, pre-birth examination, selective abortions, euthanasia, brain death, transplant, etc.


The traditional understanding of “communication” was that it started and finished in the direct inter-personal relation. This is challenged today, as new ways of communication have been introduced into our lives.
1. Education
- The clergy, using their academic knowledge and other talents educates the faithful.
- St. Basil the Great is one of the Patrons of the Christian Letters. This year it is the 1630th anniversary of his death. The Patriarchate of Romania and the Orthodox Theological School of the University of Munich are preparing various events in order to honour this anniversary.

2. The act of Informing
- St. Paul in 2 Timothy (4, 5) says: “do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry”. The original Greek in the place of “fulfil” has the term “pliroforison”. Theodoretos the commentator interprets it as “offer your teaching”. Offer teaching and information to your people. Talk to them in a language that they can understand.
- Our Church was never afraid of anything new. Today the clergymen live within the society and use all the means of communication as other people do. In our times it is common to use facebook, e-mail, blog, YouTube etc.
- Our Archdiocese uses already the above means of communication and informing our people. His Eminence gave his Easter Message via YouTube. 187 viewers have watched it so far. The address is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mORErvfhUVI
- Our faithful expect us to take various initiatives and to keep in contact with them using modern technology.

Our ministry in the modern era is not an easy mission. It requires from our part vision, pastoral sensitivity, as well as support towards our own selves and our parishioners, in order to keep in line with our Holy Tradition and to lead the way for our people into the Kingdom of God, through pastoral care and prayer. Amen.

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