Anne Vandenhoeck, Margaritis Schinas, Fr Stavros Kofinas
July 8, 2005
Director of the Office of the Commissioner of Public Health
Office BERL 10/113
BE – 1049
Dear Mr. Schinas,
On behalf of all the participants of the European Network of Health Care Chaplaincy, allow me to thank you for meeting with Ms. Anne Vandenhoeck and me in your office in Brussels on the 22nd of June. Both Ms. Vandenhoeck and I were truly moved by your warmth and enthusiasm, together with your eagerness to learn more about the various aspects of spiritual health care, the role of the chaplain as a health care professional and provider and how this is all implemented in the various health care systems of Europe.
We found that the points you made during our discussion were very useful. Specifically:
1) We are looking into the possibilities of forming a research program that could possibly be funded by SANCO. I have a contact here in Greece that could help us with this, but I would also like to request that you send me the correct link on the Internet for this program so that the Network Committee can review all the materials available.
2) Your suggestion that we be included in the study that is being prepared on the components of palliative care within the EU was very timely. This is truly a significant way of introducing the spiritual aspects of health care into the larger framework of public health in the EU. There is a vast amount of material on this and I am sure that we can contribute to this study. I hope to communicate with Ms. Akkelidou this week to arrange a meeting with her. Thank you for informing her about the ENHCC and our wishes to contact her when she met with you on the 27th of June.
3) We are also looking into contacting members of the EPP to inform them of spiritual care and the work of the chaplain.
As I mentioned during our meeting, we hope that a joint meeting with members the office of the Commissioner of Public Health, the EU Policy Advisor for Dialogue of Religion, Churches and Humanism (Dr. Michael Weninger) and members of the EU Parliament can be arranged to discuss the issues we presented to you on a broader and more comprehensive level.
Our meeting has opened a new door of positive and creative communication and I am sure that our new relationship will bring forth many fruits in the area of public health in the EU. I would like to reiterate that our main concern is to assure that proper spiritual care be available during the crucial time of illness. Your positive response has given us the encouragement and support needed to continue to provide this care in the health care settings we serve and to expand our dialogue with the greater public health care community.
Please relay my sincere good wishes to Commissioner Kyprianou with the hopes that we will be able to meet him in the near future.
With great respect,
Rev. Dr. Stavros Kofinas
Coordinator of the European Network of Healthcare Chaplaincy
(Representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate)