at the yard of the Church of Greece

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A weekly report published by Media Ecclesiastica, Athens, Greece
The Editor: Pan. Drakopoulos

14 September 2005          click for your free subscription

In this Issue: 

Ecumenical Patriarch begins tour of northern Greece

Putin describes Mount Athos as ‘the largest Orthodox power’

Cardinal Kasper Sees Possibility of Papal Meeting with Orthodox Patriarchs

The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece on Surrogate Motherhood

Archbishop Christodoulos on Sts. Andrei Rublev and John of Damascus

One Year without Patriarch Petros of Alexandria and all Africa

Ecumenical Patriarch begins tour of northern Greece

[ANA]: Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomeos began a four-day visit of northern Greece on Tuesday with his arrival in Thessaloniki, the first stop of his tour. The Patriarch was greeted at Thessaloniki's Macedonia Airport by Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Christodoulos, who headed a large delegation of high-ranking Orthodox Church clerics. Macedonia-Thrace Minister Nikos Tsiartsonis represented the government while several other local and regional officials were on hand. Vartholomeos is expected to visit a handful of bishoprics in northern Greece.

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Putin describes Mount Athos as one of the sources of Russia as ‘the largest Orthodox power’

[Interfax]:Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has visited Holy Mount Athos, underscored the spiritual bond existing between Russia and Greece in general and Mount Athos in particular.

“In Russia, great changes are taking place, and today every person of any nationality and faith can return and returns to his spiritual roots”, the head of the Russian state emphasized.

”Certainly, in Russia with her 145 million-strong population, the overwhelming majority are Christians. Therefore the rebirth of Russia for us is inseparably linked first of all with spiritual rebirth”, Putin underlined.

‘We have great respect for Greece in general and Athos in particular. And while Russia is the largest Orthodox country, Greece and Athos are her sources. We remember it and cherish it’, the Russian president said.

During Putin’s meeting with Greek Prime Minister Konstantinos Karamanlis that took place on the same day, the head of the Greek government noted that Holy Mount Athos, which his high guest intended to visit, was ‘a connecting link in relations between our two nations’.

After his visit to Karyes, the capital of Athos, Putin drove to the Iveron Monastery, himself at the steering wheel. The Iveron Monastery is the third in importance among the 20 Athonite monasteries. At its entrance, there is a small church dedicated to the miracle-working Icon of Our Lady of Iveron called ‘the Gatekeeper’.

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Cardinal Kasper Sees Possibility of Papal Meeting With Orthodox Patriarchs

[Zenit:] The relaunching of a Mixed Catholic-Orthodox Commission is a step in the ecumenical road that, according to Cardinal Walter Kasper, contemplates the possibility of the future meeting -- as well as a meeting with Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow.

"All the leaders of the Christian Churches were very happy that the Pope declared that unity is the priority," said Cardinal Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, in an interview published Saturday in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

"With the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople we are relaunching the Catholic-Orthodox Mixed Commission," he said. "A preparatory meeting will be held in December and in the spring of 2006 the plenary commission will meet."

Moreover, Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople has invited Benedict XVI to visit Istanbul on Nov. 30, the feast of St. Andrew.

As "an idea to witness the faith in a secularized society and to express the common intention to advance towards perfect unity," Cardinal Kasper pointed out that "thought could be given to a meeting of the Pope with all the patriarchs of the Orthodox Churches," an initiative that would require "a lengthy preparation."

Regarding relations with the Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow, Cardinal Kasper confirmed that "the atmosphere has improved" in connection with the possibility of a meeting between Benedict XVI and Patriarch Alexy II, "but perhaps not in Moscow, maybe in a third place."

"Until now, Alexy II has said that we must resolve the problems of the so-called Catholic proselytism in the East and Uniatism. In our opinion, the meeting could take place, through an appropriately prepared joint declaration," said the cardinal. "We have already told him [Alexy] clearly that proselytism is not the intention, it is not politics, it is not the strategy of the Catholic Church," Cardinal Kasper said. "If errors are committed in Siberia on both sides, it is good to talk to the local bishops."

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The Holy Synod of the Church of Greece on Surrogate Motherhood

With the opportunity of a discussion which will take place on 16/9/2005 in the framework of the Council for Social Issues of the Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council, in Paris and following a relative proposal of support for surrogate motherhood by the British Euro-parliamentarian Michael Hancock, the position of the Holy Synod regarding this issue is restated.

The possibility of pregnancy by a carrying or surrogate mother may have a positive side, in that pregnancy is aided, however, because the developing bond with the foetus during pregnancy is an essential and integral part, not only of motherhood but also of foetal development, the continuation of the relationship between the carrying mother - child, wrongs the genetic parents, its suspension wrongs the carrying mother, and both solutions especially wrong the child, in this way unsettling family cohesion.

Moreover, the interference of the carrying mother in the sacred relations between the genetic parents and the child is not lacking in responsibility. Therefore: What would happen should the genetic parents die or, following a prenatal examination or any other cause (e.g. divorce), the genetic parents want the cessation of pregnancy and the carrying mother refuses?

How can problems arising from the careless life of the pregnant woman (e.g. smoking, use of alcohol or narcotics, exaggerated and careless activities etc), or anxiety, stress, psychological imbalances and abnormalities which definitely affect the foetus, or a sudden serious illness, be regulated? Is surrogate motherhood is a service with remuneration or an act of coordination? And if it is the former, what terms determine the remuneration or the responsibilities of the pregnant woman towards the parents and vice versa?

It is a little unlikely that the woman who is to carry the child is already a mother who has given birth to her own children and has satisfied the necessity for motherhood (unless she is family or will be remunerated satisfactorily, why should she suffer through pregnancy?). Logic and experience dictate that it is most likely that the carrying mother is a woman who has not been given the possibility of pregnancy. This however increases the likelihood of a strong bond with the child, with unforeseen consequences and emotional or practical difficulties, or it introduces the temptation for pregnancy for remuneration by women who are in financial need, something that is difficult to control.

Finally, the fact that the other countries do not permit anything similar, it would facilitate the phenomenon of reproductive tourism, as parents rom other countries, in which surrogate motherhood is forbidden, would be allowed to come to Greece to entrust the carrying of their child to a woman living in our country.

The experience of other countries could become our experience too. Pioneering at this point is thoughtless and unjustified.

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Archbishop Christodoulos on Sts. Andrei Rublev and John of Damascus

An International Ecumenical Congress, dedicated to the Venerable John of Damascus and the illustrious Russian Iconographer Saint Andrei Rublev (Andrey Rublyov) is taking place in Bose, Italy (11-17/9/2005).

In his message to the delegates Archbishop Christodoulos states that “They may have lived in different places and times, however their message springs from the same source of the ‘living water’. This spring of the true and living water is Christ”. And he continues: “Rublyov coincides with St John of Damascus in Theology about the Holy Icons, in the dogmatic teaching that to Icons belongs not worship, which is ascribed only to God, but the honoured veneration of them.”

The Church of Greece is represented at the Congress by Metropolitan Meletios of Nikopolis and Preveza and Archimandrite Chrysostomos Papathanasiou.

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One Year Without Patriarch Petros of Alexandria and all Africa

In his message on the completion of a year since the sudden loss of the late Patriarch Petrol of Alexandria and his entourage, Archbishop Christodoulos stated: “The Greek Patriarch Petrol of the second-throne Orthodox Church was a man of many talents. He was vigorous and a visionary, with missionary zeal and unselfishness. He reorganized the Patriarchate, renovated the Churches and the church buildings, established new Archdioceses and Dioceses, and reinforced the missions and the spread of the word of the Gospel. He gave himself entirely to the service of his neighbour and always felt the pain of the hungry, the thirsty, the sick. He was truly an ecclesiastic and national personality.

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