Patriarch Bartholomew urges vaccination and not to trust irresponsible voices of non-experts

Patriarch Bartholomew urges vaccination and not to trust irresponsible voices of non-experts 1

In his Christmas message this year, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew urged members of the Orthodox faith to get vaccinated against Covid-19, if they have not already done so, reminding people that science is a gift from God and as such to trust the scientists and medical professionals  and not the irresponsible voices of non-experts.

“Science, provided it serves to minister to humanity, is a precious gift from God,” he noted, urging people to follow the advice of health authorities and the recommended protection measures and “not get carried away by the irresponsible voices of non-experts and those proclaiming themselves representatives of God and ‘spiritual advisors’ of the genuine faith, who contradict themselves woefully, however, due to their lack of love for their fellows, whose life they expose to great danger,” the Patriarch said.

“We give glory to the God of mercy, who strengthened the specialists and scientists to develop effective vaccines and other medications in order to confront this crisis, and we encourage all faithful who have yet to be vaccinated to do so and everyone to adhere to the protective measures by the health authorities. Science, to the extent that operates as a minister of man, is a priceless gift by God. We must gratefully accept this gift and not be misled by irresponsible voices of ignorant and self-proclaimed as representatives of God and of the authentic faith “spiritual advisors,” who, nevertheless, lamentably invalidate themselves through the absence of love for their brethren, whose lives they expose to grave danger.”

 

PATRIACH’S CHRISTMAS MESSAGE (IN FULL)

Brother concelebrants and blessed children,

Having once again arrived at the splendid feast of the Nativity in the flesh of our Savior Christ , who visited us from the heights, we glorify with psalms and hymns His all-heavenly name. The Incarnation of the pre-eternal Word of God is “the crowning of our salvation,” the “eternal mystery” of divine-human communion that transcends all reason. As St. Maximus the Confessor says so eloquently, “as a loving God, He truly became human assuming the essence of humankind, although the manner in which He became human will always remain ineffable; He became human in a manner that transcends humanity.”

The divine Incarnation, along with the manifestation of the truth about God also reveals the truth and ultimate destination of man, our deification by grace. St. Nicholas Cabasilas proclaims so theologically that Christ “is the first and only One to show us the true and perfect man.”  Since that time, anyone who honors God must also honor man, and whoever undermines man also dishonors God, who assumed our nature. In Christ, speaking theologically about God we speak at the same time about man. The incarnate Divine Economy definitively abolishes the image of God as tyrannical, punitive, and adversary to man. Christ is everywhere, always and in all things the denial of the denial of man and the defender of human freedom. The life of the Church, as the flesh assumed by the incarnate Son and Word of God,  represents, expresses and serves this all-saving mystery of divine-humanity.

With this “other fashioning” of man and renewal of all creation in Christ as its banner, the Church today offers the good witness before every development that threatens the sacredness of the human person and the integrity of creation. It lives and preaches the truth of authentic spiritual life and the culture of love and solidarity. Offering testimony “about the hope that lies within us” (1 Pet 3.15), the Church does not in any way regard contemporary civilization as another sinful Nineveh by invoking like Jonah the divine wrath on it and its abolition, but rather the Church struggles for the culture’s transformation in Christ. In our age we need pastoral imagination, dialogue and not argumentation, participation and not abstention, specific deeds and not abstract theory, creative reception and not general rejection. All these do not function at the expense of our spirituality and liturgical life, but reveal the inviolable unity of what we call the “vertical” and “horizontal” dimensions of the Church’s presence and witness. Faithfulness to the tradition of the Church is not entrapment to the past, but employment of the experience of the past in a creative way for the present.

In this past year, too, the pandemic of the Covid-19 coronavirus has troubled humankind. We give glory to the God of mercy, who strengthened the specialists and scientists to develop effective vaccines and other medications in order to confront this crisis, and we encourage all faithful who have yet to be vaccinated to do so and everyone to adhere to the protective measures by the health authorities. Science, to the extent that operates as a minister of man, is a priceless gift by God. We must gratefully accept this gift and not be misled by irresponsible voices of ignorant and self-proclaimed as representatives of God and of the authentic faith “spiritual advisors,” who, nevertheless, lamentably invalidate themselves through the absence of love for their brethren, whose lives they expose to grave danger.

Most honorable brothers and dearly beloved children,

With unshakable conviction that the life of each of us and the journey of all humanity is directed by the God of wisdom and love, we look forward to a happy 2022, which despite external factors and developments will be for everyone a year of salvation, inasmuch as during its course as well, the movement of history is guided by Christ, who loves mankind and cares for all things, “who desires that all people will be saved and come to the knowledge of truth.” (1 Tm 2.4)

With God’s will, during the upcoming Holy and Great Week, we shall hold the service of the Blessing of the Holy Chrism in our venerable Center. We regard it as a uniquely divine gift to our Modesty that we shall be deemed worthy to preside over this festive and moving rite for the fourth time in our humble Patriarchal ministry. Glory to God for all things!

With these sentiments, respectfully worshiping the child Jesus born in Bethlehem, we orient our thought to our Christian brothers there and we pray for the peaceful and harmonious coexistence of all those residing in the Holy Land.

In this spirit, we wish to all of you, those near and afar, a blessed Twelvetide, as well as a healthy, fruitful in good deeds and filled with divine gifts new year in the Lord’s favor, to Whom belong the glory and might to the endless ages. Amen.

Christmas 2021

+Bartholomew of Constantinople
Fervent supplicant of all before God


GREEK VERSION (IN FULL):

Ἀδελφοί συλλειτουργοί καί εὐλογημένα τέκνα,

Φθάσαντες καί πάλιν εἰς τήν πάμφωτον ἑορτήν τῆς κατά σάρκα Γεννήσεως τοῦ ἐπισκεψαμένου ἡμᾶς ἐξ ὕψους Σωτῆρος Χριστοῦ, δοξάζομεν ἐν ψαλμοῖς καί ὕμνοις τό ὑπερουράνιον ὄνομα Αὐτοῦ. Ἡ Ἐνανθρώπησις τοῦ προαιωνίου Λόγου τοῦ Θεοῦ εἶναι «τῆς σωτηρίας ἡμῶν τὸ κεφάλαιον», τό ὑπέρλογον «ἀεὶ μυστήριον» τῆς θεανθρωπίνης κοινωνίας.

Ὁ Θεός, ὡς λέγει μέ ὑπέροχον τρόπον ὁ Ἅγιος Μάξιμος ὁ Ὁμολογητής, «ὡς φιλάνθρωπος ἐκ τῆς ἀνθρώπου οὐσίας ἀληθῶς ἄνθρωπος γεγονώς, τὸν τοῦ πῶς ἄνθρωπος γέγονε τρόπον μένει διὰ παντὸς ἔχων ἀνέκφαντον· ὑπὲρ ἄνθρωπον γὰρ γέγονεν ἄνθρωπος».

Ἡ θεία Ἐνσάρκωσις, ὁμοῦ μετά τῆς φανερώσεως τῆς ἀληθείας περί τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἀποκαλύπτει καί τήν ἀλήθειαν καί τόν τελικόν προορισμόν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, τήν κατά χάριν θέωσιν. Θεολογικώτατα, ὁ Ἅγιος Νικόλαος Καβάσιλας διακηρύσσει ὅτι ὁ Χριστός «τὸν ἀληθινὸν ἄνθρωπον καὶ τέλειον πρῶτος καὶ μόνος ἔδειξεν».

Ἔκτοτε, ὁ τιμῶν τόν Θεόν ὀφείλει νά σέβεται καί τόν ἄνθρωπον, καί ὁ ὑποτιμῶν τόν ἄνθρωπον ἀσεβεῖ πρός τόν Θεόν, τόν προσλαβόντα τήν ἡμετέραν φύσιν. Ἐν Χριστῷ, ὁ λόγος τῆς θεολογίας περί τοῦ Θεοῦ εἶναι ἐν ταὐτῷ καί λόγος περί τοῦ ἀνθρώπου.

Ἡ ἔνσαρκος Θεία Οἰκονομία ἀναιρεῖ ὁριστικῶς τήν εἰκόνα τοῦ Θεοῦ ὡς δυνάστου, τιμωροῦ καί ἀντιπάλου τοῦ ἀνθρώπου. Ὁ Χριστός εἶναι πανταχοῦ, πάντοτε καί ἐν παντί ἡ ἄρνησις τῆς ἀρνήσεως τοῦ ἀνθρώπου καί ὁ ὑπερασπιστής τῆς ἐλευθερίας του.

Ἡ ζωή τῆς Ἐκκλησίας, ὡς ἡ σάρξ τήν ὁποίαν ἀνέλαβεν ὁ ἐνανθρωπήσας Υἱός καί Λόγος τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἐκπροσωπεῖ, ἐκφράζει καί διακονεῖ αὐτό τό πανσωστικόν μυστήριον τῆς θεανθρωπινότητος.

Μέ λάβαρον τήν ἐν Χριστῷ «ἄλλην πλᾶσιν» τοῦ ἀνθρώπου καί τήν ἀνακαίνισιν συμπάσης τῆς κτίσεως, ἡ Ἐκκλησία δίδει καί σήμερον τήν καλήν μαρτυρίαν ἔναντι ὅλων τῶν ἐξελίξεων, αἱ ὁποῖαι ἀπειλοῦν τήν ἱερότητα τοῦ ἀνθρωπίνου προσώπου καί τήν ἀκεραιότητα τῆς δημιουργίας, βιοῦσα καί κηρύττουσα τήν ἀλήθειαν τῆς γνησίας πνευματικῆς ζωῆς καί τόν πολιτισμόν τῆς ἀγάπης καί τῆς ἀλληλεγγύης.

Διδοῦσα λόγον «περὶ τῆς ἐν ἡμῖν ἐλπίδος», οὐδόλως θεωρεῖ τόν σύγχρονον πολιτισμόν ὡς τήν νέαν ἁμαρτόζωον Νινευί, ἐπικαλουμένη ὡς ὁ Ἰωνᾶς τήν θείαν μῆνιν ἐπ᾿ αὐτόν καί τόν ἀφανισμόν του, ἀλλά ἀγωνίζεται διά τήν ἐν Χριστῷ μεταμόρφωσιν αὐτοῦ.

Ἀπαιτεῖται εἰς τήν ἐποχήν μας ποιμαντική φαντασία, διάλογος ὄχι ἀντίλογος, μετοχή ὄχι ἀποχή, συγκεκριμένη πρᾶξις ὄχι ἀπόκοσμος θεωρία, δημιουργική πρόσληψις ὄχι γενική ἀπόρριψις.

Ὅλα αὐτά δέν λειτουργοῦν εἰς βάρος τῆς πνευματικότητος καί τῆς λατρευτικῆς ζωῆς, ἀλλά ἀναδεικνύουν τήν ἀδιάσπαστον ἑνότητα τῆς λεγομένης «καθέτου» καί «ὁριζοντίου» διαστάσεως τῆς ἐκκλησιαστικῆς παρουσίας καί μαρτυρίας. Πιστότης εἰς τήν παράδοσιν τῆς Ἐκκλησίας δέν εἶναι ἐγκλωβισμός εἰς τό παρελθόν, ἀλλά ἀξιοποίησις τῆς πείρας τοῦ παρελθόντος προσφυῶς ἐν τῷ παρόντι.

Καί κατά τό παριππεῦον ἔτος, ἡ πανδημία τοῦ κορωνοϊοῦ Covid – 19 ἐταλάνισε τήν ἀνθρωπότητα. Δοξάζομεν τόν Θεόν τοῦ ἐλέους, τόν κρατύναντα τούς εἰδικούς ἐπιστήμονας εἰς τήν ἀνάπτυξιν ἀποτελεσματικῶν ἐμβολίων καί ἄλλων φαρμάκων διά τήν ἀντιμετώπισιν τῆς κρίσεως καί καλοῦμεν ὅσους πιστούς δέν ἔχουν ἀκόμη ἐμβολιασθῆ νά τό πράξουν, πάντας δέ νά ἀκολουθοῦν τά προτεινόμενα ὑπό τῶν ὑγειονομικῶν ἀρχῶν μέτρα προστασίας.

Ἡ ἐπιστήμη, ἐφ᾿ ὅσον λειτουργεῖ ὡς διάκονος τοῦ ἀνθρώπου, εἶναι πολύτιμον δῶρον τοῦ Θεοῦ. Ὀφείλομεν νά δεχώμεθα εὐγνωμόνως τό δῶρον καί νά μή παρασυρώμεθα ἀπό τάς ἀνευθύνους φωνάς τῶν μή ἐπαϊόντων καί τῶν αὐτοανακηρυχθέντων εἰς ἐκπροσώπους τοῦ Θεοῦ καί τῆς γνησίας πίστεως «πνευματικῶν συμβούλων», αὐτοαναιρουμένων ὅμως οἰκτρῶς, λόγῳ τῆς ἀπουσίας ἀγάπης πρός τόν ἀδελφόν, τήν ζωήν τοῦ ὁποίου ἐκθέτουν εἰς μέγαν κίνδυνον.

Τιμιώτατοι ἀδελφοί καί προσφιλέστατα τέκνα,

Μέ ἀμετακίνητον πίστιν ὅτι τήν ζωήν ἑκάστου ἐξ ἡμῶν καί τήν πορείαν τῆς ἀνθρωπότητος ὅλης κατευθύνει ὁ Θεός τῆς σοφίας καί τῆς ἀγάπης, προσβλέπομεν εἰς ἕν αἴσιον 2022, τό ὁποῖον, ἀνεξαρτήτως τῶν ἐξωτερικῶν δεδομένων καί τῶν ἐξελίξεων, θά εἶναι δι᾿ ἡμᾶς πάντας ἔτος σωτήριον, ἐφ᾿ ὅσον καί κατ᾿ αὐτό τήν πορείαν τῶν πραγμάτων κατευθύνει ὁ φιλανθρώπως πάντα οἰκονομῶν Χριστός, «ὃς πάντας ἀνθρώπους θέλει σωθῆναι καὶ εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν ἀληθείας ἐλθεῖν».

Τοῦ Κυρίου εὐδοκοῦντος, κατά τήν Ἁγίαν καί Μεγάλην Ἑβδομάδα τοῦ ἐπερχομένου ἔτους, θά πραγματοποιηθῇ ἐν τῷ πανσέπτῳ καθ᾿ ἡμᾶς Κέντρῳ, ἡ τελετή Καθαγιασμοῦ τοῦ Ἁγίου Μύρου. Θεωροῦμεν ἀνεπανάληπτον θείαν δωρεάν πρός τήν ἡμῶν Μετριότητα, ὅτι θά ἀξιωθῶμεν νά προστῶμεν τῆς πανηγυρικῆς καί κατανυκτικῆς αὐτῆς τελετουργίας διά τετάρτην φοράν κατά τήν διάρκειαν τῆς ταπεινῆς ἡμῶν Πατριαρχίας. Δόξα τῷ Θεῷ πάντων ἕνεκεν!

Μέ αὐτά τά αἰσθήματα, προσκυνοῦντες εὐσεβοφρόνως τό ἐν Βηθλεέμ τεχθέν παιδίον Ἰησοῦν, στρέφομεν τήν σκέψιν ἡμῶν πρός τούς ἐκεῖσε ἀδελφούς Χριστιανούς μας καί προσευχόμεθα διά τήν εἰρηνικήν καί ἁρμονικήν συνύπαρξιν ὅλων τῶν διαβιούντων εἰς τήν Ἁγίαν Γῆν.

Ἐπί δέ τούτοις, εὐχόμεθα πᾶσιν ὑμῖν, τοῖς ἐγγύς καί τοῖς μακράν, εὐλογημένον τό Ἅγιον Δωδεκαήμερον, ὑγιηρόν δέ, καλλίκαρπον ἐν ἔργοις ἀγαθοῖς καί μεστόν θείων δωρημάτων τόν νέον ἐνιαυτόν τῆς χρηστότητος τοῦ Κυρίου, ᾯ ἡ δόξα καί τό κράτος εἰς τούς ἀπεράντους αἰῶνας. Ἀμήν.

Χριστούγεννα‚ βκα’

† Ὁ Κωνσταντινουπόλεως
διάπυρος πρός Θεόν εὐχέτης πάντων ὑμῶν