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Church sympathetic to AIDS sufferers

We realise the urgent need for proper education, says Bishop Seraphim

 Bishop Seraphim Ginis of Apollonia


By John Pyrros – Neos Kosmos Saturday 26 July 2014

Melbourne played host to AIDS 2014 conference, bringing together the world’s leading experts on HIV/AIDS and others trying to bring an end to the deadly disease.

But where does the Greek Orthodox Church stand on HIV/AIDS prevention, particularly with regard to the controversial contraception discussion?

Neos Kosmos contacted the Sydney office of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia.

His Grace Bishop Seraphim conveyed the Church’s concerns regarding the general health and wellbeing of global citizens in the fight against the pandemic.

“The Greek Orthodox Church is always concerned for – and works towards – the health of all people, in both body and soul,” His Grace said.

Regarding scientific research and findings in the race to produce a cure, Bishop Seraphim was very supportive of the efforts of scientists in combating diseases holistically.

“Treating HIV/AIDS is a matter of scientific expertise, and the Church values the research that scientists are conducting on a global level to combat this, and every other disease.”

His Grace provided a rather pragmatic approach to preventing and educating people about the disease.

“When looking at the relatively recent emergence of this disease from a spiritual perspective, the Church realises that there is an urgent need for proper education.

“In this regard, the message that we teach (i.e. tradition) remains as it has always been, namely to live responsibly in a monogamous relationship.”

Bishop Seraphim suggested that the opinion of the Greek Orthodox Church, compared to other Christian denominations, is one that cannot be generally conveyed without an in depth and lengthy deconstruction of where respective churches stand.

Discussions about the virus often involve controversial viewpoints in regards to any theological dialogue regarding prevention, particularly contraception.

Christian denominations have often been quoted as speaking out against the use of contraception based on theological principles. And of course there is the church-vs-science debate.

Both of which often raise ethical eyebrows.

The AIDS 2014 program aimed to consider scientific developments in the area of HIV/AIDS, in a meeting of minds.

AIDS publisher Aidsmap reported that Georgios Nikolopoulos of the University of Athens, who was in Melbourne presenting at the conference, suggested that European countries are facing increasing rates of reported HIV infections. This is particularly the case for people in economically starved European countries, who are now turning to intravenous narcotics as a result of their economic woes.

According to the Aidsmap report, Nikolopoulos stated that Greece and Romania were particularly susceptible to inclines in HIV infections, at an increase of almost 20-fold between 2010 and 2012.




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