Monday, January 3, 2022

One Year Since the Beginning of Vaccination in Greece (Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Indeed, a full year has passed since the day the vaccination started in Greece and I received the first dose of the coronavirus vaccine on December 27, 2020, as a representative of the Church of Greece, and some days later on the 21st of January 2021, I received the second dose, and glory to God I am until now in good health.

In the statements I made then and in a text I wrote I formulated the two reasons that led me to this decision.

The first reason was a thought that prevailed in me that, from our childhood and throughout our lives, we received many vaccinations, we took many medicines and so we survived so many years in life and we praise God for that. Also, we thank the scientists, who with the help of God kept us alive, to work for the glory of God and the Church, but also the good of society.

My parents told me that when I was a small child I had reached the brink of death from a high fever due to the flu, and a doctor, with the help of God, gave me injections of penicillin, which had by then been discovered and was distributed, and it preserved my life, because otherwise I would not be alive today. So, I thank God and medical science, but also the specific pediatrician.

The second reason was that in the war against the virus a new weapon was found and I was called to take part in this war and in fact in the front line of fire, to be the first to be vaccinated on behalf of the Church of Greece, to aid in the creation of a wall of immunization, to save people from death.

With this act I felt that I was doing my duty, applying what I have been teaching and writing for so many years about the relationship and cooperation between faith and science, and about self-sacrifice for the sake of others.

However, after a while, so many conspiracies, antichristologies, backward mentalities and fanatics appeared that really scared me. That is, I was not so much frightened by the vaccine, despite the side effects it could have on my health, because all medicines and all medical procedures have side effects, as much as I was frightened by this fanaticism and ignorance of Christ. I thought that such mentalities would make us go back together after many years to the Middle Ages when Western scholastic theology clashed with the new movements of the time.

Of course, we have been saying all these years that in the Orthodox Church there was no conflict between faith and science, as there was in the West with the Holy Inquisition. For example, Basil the Great, in his interpretation of the "Hexaemeron", used the scientific knowledge of his time, since he himself had studied all the science of that time.

This is because in our tradition there is a dual methodology of knowledge, that is, the knowledge of God is acquired by the noetic energy in the heart, while the knowledge of created things is acquired by the rational energy in the brain.

However, the fanaticism of some members of the Church has in practice challenged this important truth, with the result that many see it as a setback. Fortunately, there are still genuine Orthodox theologians and clergy today who maintain the boundaries between theology and science. Of course, modern science must also be controlled by the science of Bioethics and take into account the limits to which it will move.

Throughout the year, from December 2020 to December 2021, many thanked me for the attitude I took and received the vaccine so that they too could avoid painful adventures in their health and so on, but there were also people who insulted me and turned with fanaticism and hatred against me. Everyone acts according to their level and the content of their internal world.

Nevertheless, I praise God who loves us all, according to the word of Christ, that God "causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous" (Matt. 5:45). I also thank the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece, especially the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Hieronymos, who "stood up to the circumstances", without wavering and making serious and responsible decisions, showing the authentic "face" of our Church, shepherding the people with sobriety and composure.

Significant is the decision taken by the Hierarchy of the Church of Greece at its convening in October 2021, which was made unanimously without any opposition by any of the 77 Hierarchs, and this shows the responsibility of our Church.

Finally, I think that we do not need a phobic Christianity, which fears every discovery of science for the good of mankind, which sees enemies everywhere, which has hatred, but we want a Church that loves and cherishes all, respects the work of scientists, healing every selfishness and self-interest to help us meet Christ and overcome death. As Fr. John Romanides said, Christ healed us from the sickness of religion.

The Apostle Paul writes: "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 8:38-39).

Let us acquire this love, let us live this spiritual freedom, and then we will not be afraid of anything in our life except sin, and we will be free in Christ.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.