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Encyclical – Organ and Tissue Donors: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia

Encyclical – Organ and Tissue Donors: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia

Emblem of Greek Orthodox Church of Australia

Dearly beloved,

As you would have no doubt heard and been informed, Medical Science has in recent years developed worldwide the practice of “organ and tissue transplants” in the human body.

This is the honourable effort of Science to replace tissue or organs that have deteriorated, through the offering of caring donors, such that the recipients of this ‘gift’ are able to live, whereas they previously had no hope whatsoever.

We are all called, therefore, to support the practice of such transplants, and to encourage one another to become donors, thereby greatly assisting our suffering fellow human beings, especially as it is possible that we may be recipients in the future, depending on circumstances.

Our Church and our Archdiocese encourages the faithful to express their relevant interest, particularly now when the Australian Government has officially undertaken a strong ‘crusade’ for donors of organs and tissue. Other Christian Churches and denominations have also mobilised, together with the followers of other religions. It is not permissible for us Orthodox to be lacking in such a praiseworthy humanitarian initiative, given that we have the word of God as our guide and motto, which states: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

As a result, it would be good for us, whenever the circumstance for a transplant arises in our immediate environment, to seek the advice of specialist Doctors about what can be done, so that we are not indifferent or unmoved in the face of such a serious matter. It requires not only a sense of human solidarity, but also of respect towards both the donor and the recipient.

Thanking you warmly for your collaboration, I wish you all a peaceful and redemptive Holy Pascha.

In Sydney 17th April, 2013

With deep fatherly love,

 Archbishop Stylianos Harkianakis of Australia

Archbishop STYLIANOS

Primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of Australia

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  1. There are two points from an Orthodox Christian perspective we should mention that can augment the very meaning and stance taken by the Greek Orthodox archdiocese of Australia in regards to organ donors.

    1. The effort towards contributing blood or serving as organ donors, is one of the greatest acts of love and philanthropy, often reflecting the very ministry of Christ: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him may not perish but may have life eternal” (John 3:16). In other words, a ministry of philanthropic service to our fellow neighbour irrespective of race, culture, religion or political persuasion, according to the extent that we can contribute; since our sweet Lord came to serve to the point of sacrificing His own life for the salvation of the world.

    2. Yet we must remember that our willingness to serve and help our fellow neighbour who is in need, is not one of charity or ethical conduct, but of spiritual conviction and prayerful devotion. And it is here that we need to cite, that to assist another person in attaining improved health is not to be an emotional charitable act; but one that is focused at granting the one who suffers from a diagnosed medical condition, additional time for repentance, for reconciliation with those they have sinned against and for self-correction, so that they may seek out the path on which God has seek to entreat them to.

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