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Author Topic: Orthodox Church Offers Help on AIDS  (Read 837 times) Average Rating: 0
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JoeS
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« on: June 27, 2005, 10:07:48 PM »

Monday, June 27, 2005. Issue 3195. Page 3.

By Oksana Yablokova
Staff Writer
The Russian Orthodox Church has for the first time officially come out in favor of welcoming HIV and AIDS sufferers into the church and offered guidance to priests on helping believers with the disease. Health officials and non-governmental organizations praised the statement as evidence that the Church had shifted its stance and is prepared to face up to the issue.

Posted on the Church's official web site, www.mospat.ru, the statement called for Orthodox priests and lay believers to do their best to welcome HIV/AIDS patients seeking the Church's support so that they would not feel "the cold of indifference, contempt and condemnation."

The World Health Organization and UNAIDS have said Russia potentially faces the biggest AIDS epidemic of any country in Europe and Central Asia, with the possibility of hundreds of thousands of people dying from the disease over the next few years.

"Diseases and the suffering related to them, including the feelings of alienation and rejection an HIV/AIDS patient experiences from others, are the consequences of sin and disdain for God-given moral values," the statement said. But it called on believers "to hate and resist the sin, rather than transfer hatred and rejection onto the sinner."

 
"A person with HIV/AIDS should find in the Church a home and a caring family," the statement said, adding that priests and parishioners should offer moral and material support to HIV sufferers and pray for their recovery.

(PART II TO FOLLOW)
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« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2005, 10:08:31 PM »

(PART II)

The statement's authors and a Church spokesman could not be reached for comment Friday.

Nongovernmental organizations fighting AIDS welcomed the statement.

"It is good that the Orthodox Church is joining with the government and non-governmental organizations in fighting AIDS, recognizing that the epidemic is becoming far too serious to ignore and that all sectors of society, including the Church, should get involved," said Igor Sadreyev, spokesman for AIDS Foundation East-West, an international NGO dedicated to fighting AIDS in the former Soviet Union.

The concept also said that HIV/AIDS patients should not be barred from participating in rituals such as communion, during which a single spoon is used to give the Eucharist to the faithful.

"Many generations of believers have recognized that infection through the spoon ... is impossible," the statement said.

Sadreyev suggested that the concept could help in educating or guiding priests who might not know how to deal with HIV-positive parishioners.

"We have a similar situation with doctors who find it difficult to overcome their psychological fears when treating HIV-infected patients or during the delivery of children born to HIV-infected women," Sadreyev said, adding that his organization ran training programs for doctors working with HIV/AIDS patients.

Vadim Pokrovsky, head of the Federal AIDS Center, said that churches worldwide had discussed how to be involved in the problem of HIV/AIDS.

"The mere appearance of this document should be considered positive, but it might give rise to discussions within the Orthodox Church and between the Church and society," Pokrovsky said.
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