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March 26, 2020

Hospital and Ideology

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

Professor Haralambos Roussos, who is Head of Pulmonology and Intensive Care at Evangelismos Hospital in Athens, lately dealt with the treatment of Savvas Xeros, a member of the Marxist terrorist organization 17N, and gave an interview about the hospitalization of his patient. In this interview, among other things, I made an important observation that I would like to convey and comment on.

The Professor, referring to the bed on which his patient Savvas Xeros was hospitalized on, said: "On the same bed was George Livanos, the archbishops Anastasios of Albania and Chrysostomos of Cyprus, and a victim of 17N Michael Vranopoulos. It was perhaps by chance, because this bed is convenient for quick service." The journalist who did the interview informs us that Professor Roussos was called to treat, besides the people mentioned above, Andreas Papandreou, Odysseas Elytis, the publisher Christos Lambrakis, Georgios Gennimatas, and all of these, except for Andreas Papandreou, were hospitalized in the same room and on the same bed. At another point in the interview, the Professor said: "Our minds are dominated by the fact that they are seriously ill and not if someone is righteous or a sinner, rich or poor."

Responding to another question of the journalist, he referred to the clear distinction between the work of the doctor and the work of the police. "When the police came, we said to them, 'You do your job and we will do ours.' So there was no interference in our work ... It was as if we were in two different rooms. They were occupied with one thing about the patient, we were occupied with another."

From the clear position of the Professor it seems that the Hospital is treating the patients, whoever they are, and they are not examining their origin, whether they are clergymen or terrorists, if they are victims or perpetrators, as well as rich or poor. Doctors look at the sick as a human being. It also seems that the work offered by the Hospital is not involved and should not be involved with the work of other operations in society or politics. Of course physicians are those who heal the sick, and they are aware of the particular ministry they serve. Therefore, the Hospital cannot be identified or affiliated with an ideology, nor politics, but it is interpreted therapeutically, because it ministers therapy to the sick.

I thought therefore how this also is the work of the Church. We have repeatedly asserted that the Church is a Hospital - a healing clinic that heals the sick. The Church is not an ideology, which is precisely why it does not distinguish and should not distinguish people who are poor or rich, terrorists or non-terrorists, moral or immoral, but it receives people in the wretchedness they are in and attempts by the Grace of God and by its special method of healing to treat them and bring them to a healthy condition. This is the work of the Clergy, since the Clergy of all ranks are healers of people. And the Mysteries of the Church, as well as its teachings, are incorporated into this perspective.

Those who view the Church ideologically, opportunistically, utilitarianly, politically and morally, ask questions such as what does the Church offer to society, how does the Church treat parties and ideologies, what does the Church do in times of democracy or dictatorship, etc. The truth is that the Church has spiritual beds - even Bed 7 at Evangelismos - that accepts all people who want their treatment, and does not look like the Hilton Hotel which is opposite Evangelismos providing rest, relaxation and entertainment.

The problem is that some confuse the Evangelismos with the Hilton, doctors with servers, that is, the Church with every ideology and moralism and the Clergy with sociologists. And so instead of the Church being an Evangelismos Hospital, it becomes a Hilton Hotel, so when the patient enters the Evangelismos for treatment, instead of finding a Hospital they encounter a hotel. This is the big problem of our era that we call secularization.

Source: From the book Χωρίς Ὑποσημειώσεις, 2002. Translated by John Sanidopoulos.

Hilton Hotel across from Evangelismos Hospital in Athens