Fr Stavros Kofinas, Dr Michael Weninger, Anne Vandenhoeck
July 3, 2005
Dr. Michael Weninger
European Policy Advisor on
Dialogue with Religions, Churches and Humanism of the
Honorable Dr. Weniger,
Allow me to thank you for the opportunity in meeting with you in Brussels on the 20th of June. Both Ms. Anne Vandenhoeck and I were very moved by the genuine concern that you showed in regards the spiritual care needed by those who are ill and the need to make every effort in reassuring that they are allowed to receive this care from a qualified spiritual health care provider – a chaplain.
Your guidance in how spiritual health care can be dealt with on a EU level was very helpful. In particular, we thank you for the honor in asking the ENHCC to become a “dialogue partner” with you on issues pertaining religion, churches and humanism in the EU. Ms. Vandenhoeck represented us at the debriefing held on the 27th of June and relayed to me that you personally greeted her in your warmly fashion. A report of this debriefing session is now on our website: http://www.eurochaplains.org/weninger_june05.htm
During your discussion, you also suggested that we look into becoming a “non-governmental organization” (NGO). Upon my return to Greece, I have already started looking into this. Being that the ENHCC already has legal standing as a non-profit organization and has an all-encompassing European character, it does not seem that we will encounter major difficulties. We will keep you informed as the process develops.
After meeting with you, we had two other very helpful meetings.
- One was with Dr. Trakatellis, Vice-President of the EU Parliament. He also suggested that we become a NGO and that we apply for funding from the SANCO program of the EU. He also gave us some supportive hints as to legislation issues.
- The second meeting was with Margaretis Schinas, Director of the Office of the Commissioner of Public Health. Mr. Schinas was most receptive and helpful. He immediately suggested that we consult Ms. Nina Akkilidou from Cyrpus, who is presently doing a study for the Commissioner’s office on the components of palliative care in the EU, so that spiritual health care can be included in her study. (this was an interesting coincidence because, if you remember, you mentioned palliative care at the conclusion of our meeting.) Another suggestion that Mr. Schinas made was that we contact members of the EPP within the EU and inform them of the issues we discussed. Mr. Schinas also advised us to become registered as a NGO and to seek out a program from SANCO.
Both Dr. Trakatellis and Mr. Schinas were very open to the prospect of
organizing a joint meeting with you, together with other members of the EU
Parliament and the ENHCC. After the summer months, we would like to send
you a proposal regarding such a joint meeting.
During our meeting, you spoke of the difficulties as policy advisor on such a very sensitive issue as religious within the EU. We fully recognize and understand these difficulties. In fact, some of these major difficulties are similar to those that we as chaplains face within the health care systems we serve. We, though, are very certain that your skills and your deep-rooted conviction of faith and love will overcome all the barriers that you encounter. All the participants of the ENHCC and I personally are honored and enthused that we will hopefully build a strong working and supportive relationship.
With great respect,
Rev. Dr. Stavros Kofinas
Coordinator of the European Network of Healthcare Chaplaincy
(Representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate)