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Published by vasiliki
Protopresbyter Konstantinos Stratigopoulos
Protopresbyter Konstantinos Stratigopoulos

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Published by: vasiliki on Apr 01, 2011
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 Protopresbyter Konstantinos Stratigopoulos
The issue of organ transplantations is importantand calls for profound theological reflections anddiscussion, so that the Orthodox Church may utter itssubstantial speech at an all-Orthodox, rather than local,level.The controversy until now has moved around theBrain Death Determination Tests. Are these tests, asspecified by the Harvard Medical School, valid? Why havenew data resulted in speaking about two sorts of death:brain death and clinical death? Why are the donor¶sorgans removed before his/her clinical death and afterhis/her brain death? It is known that the organs, exceptfor some very few, cannot be recovered from a deadcorpse because in most cases these organs are uselessafter the heart has stopped beating. It is certain that theorgans are removed from a living being, whose brain isnot functioning, according to the questionable tests byHarvard. Who can know the moment the soul departsfrom the body? Who can determine the mystery of death?Can the Church support the removal of organs before thedefinite dissolution of the interrelation between soul andbody? Shouldn't the Church take into account the reactionof many scientists in Greece and abroad against theHarvard Brain Death Determination Tests as well asagainst the use of two sorts of death, brain death andclinical death?All the above are linked to the evidence of thediscussion so far. In the writer¶s view, any intervention toremove the donor¶s organs before his/her definite death isunacceptable because it means taking away the donor¶slife, even when this is done for the sake of curing anotherpatient.
end does not justify the means¶
. The
mystery of death shall remain a mystery for ever. Nobodyshould disintegrate it or determine it in their personalmedical or theological views.And while the entire discussion had lain in theframework of the above reflections, a book was publishedwhich shifted the whole level of working out a solution,ultimately coming against the mystery of death. This bookwas written by archimandrite Nikolaos Chatzinikolaou andpublished by the ³Centre of Biomedicine and Ethics´ underthe title of µFree from the genome¶. The chapter entitledµSpiritual morality and pathology of the transplantations¶ (pages 315-345) states some views which go beyond thediscussion so far. These views will be highlighted in thefollowing text, followed by some 25 questions which callfor an answer.On page 318 of the book one reads : ³Life is a giftof God, but not one that belongs to the donor only. It alsobelongs to its receiver. Life is ours as well. It is theparamount field of exercising our free will. Life is notdonated to us in order to live in selfishness andpossessiveness, but is rather offered to us so that it canbe so much our life that we can even offer it. This is thereason why we love and take care of our life more thananything else. This is done both with great caution,because it is God¶s gift, and in our free will, because it isour life. The best way to return it to God is by offering itto our neighbour. "There is no other way to save our soulsthan through our neighbour" (Saint Macarius theEgyptian).
Question 1.
By all means our life is the field of exercisingour free will. However, when our free will fails to lead usto God, isn¶t this offering of our life moving along thehorizontal axis of man-to-man relations and thereforeplainly humanitarian?
Question 2.
Could the statement that ³Life is ours aswell´ serve as the theological foundation for choosing todo whatever we wish with our life?
Question 3.
What is the meaning of the line ³and let uscommit our entire life to Christ our God´ said in the HolyLiturgy?
Question 4.
Could it be that the author of the book isconfusing the phrase ³the ministering to the saints´ (2Corinthians 8, 4) with the verb µcommit¶ as in ³Father, intoyour hands I commit my spirit!´ (Luke 23, 46) or in ³theycommitted them to the Lord´ (Acts 14, 23) and in ³letthem that suffer according to the will of God commit thekeeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto afaithful Creator.´ (1 Peter 4, 19) ?
Question 5.
Why is the quotation from Saint Macariusused arbitrarily in relation to issues that were non-existentat that time?
Question 6.
When the quotation from Saint Macarius isused arbitrarily and detached from its context isn¶t there arisk of launching the idea that any humanitarian offering issotiriological per se, therefore rendering the life in thesacraments of our Church unnecessary? Could it be thatthe balanced meaning of the quotation from Apostle Petermentioned in Question 4 above gives us the completeanswer, devoid of risky, polarizing views?
Question 7.
Since the text is about offering and love,could it be that at the same time it testifies the fact thatthe organs are removed from a living person , since thedead, or even -in their mind- the brain-dead, do notafford their free will for offering and love?
Question 8.
Aren¶t we using nice words to persuade thepeople of God to make an offering which is no longer anoffering? Otherwise, if the donor is alive, why isn¶t he/sheentrusting the issue of his/her death to the Lord of life anddeath?
On page 319 the following sentence boldlyadmits that the organs are removed from a living

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