Deliberations of the 1st International Conference for Pastoral Health Care of the Ecumenical Patriarchate successfully concluded

The deliberations of the 1st International Conference for Pastoral Health Care of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which took place in Rhodes, Greece, between the 8th and the 12th of October, have been successfully concluded. The Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate had appointed His Eminence, Metropolitan Kyrillos of Rhodes as President of the Conference, who hosted the event in his Metropolis.

One hundred and seventy (170) representatives from the Metropolises, administratively and spiritually under the Ecumenical Patriarchate throughout the world, participated in the Conference. The Churches of Cyprus, Greece and Albania also sent official representatives. The Deans of the Theological Schools of Athens, Thessalonica and Holy Cross in Boston, representatives from the Supreme Ecclesiastical Academies in Greece and the Orthodox School of the University of Munich attended. Representatives were also sent by the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Scottish Churches.  Also participating were providers that are related to pastoral care and medical care, such as doctors, nurses, social workers and others.
The Conference gave its participants the opportunity to discuss the difficulties that are encountered in the area of pastor health care on a theological and practical level.  The need for special education and formation for priests in pastoral health care was emphasized. Given that sickness has multidimensional aspects, it requires careful attention on the part of those that minister to the sick. Emphasis was placed on team work on a multidisciplinary level (including that of the priest) and the need for spiritual support of all healthcare providers.

The participants of the Conference were informed about international developments on a pastoral and medical level. Specifically, topics related to care of cancer patients, those suffering from neurological illnesses, care of the sick child and that of the elderly were discussed. A special session on bioethics was held, together with a session on “burnout” of health care providers.

The representatives attending the Conference expressed the wish that His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I bless the formation of a Orthodox “network” of pastoral health care that will give the opportunity to all those that participate to find support in their efforts to develop and provide high quality pastoral care, focusing on those that suffer in illness.

From the Organizing Committee
October 15, 2008