Friday, September 13, 2019

Preaching and the Internet: A Contemporary Pastoral Problem

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The case of Metropolitan Neophytos of Morphou in regards to his talk on homosexuality and his persecution, without knowing what the outcome of the case will be, revealed a problem that exists in contemporary society.

It is a given that the Metropolitan of Morphou is a pious Hierarch with an ecclesiastical consciousness and an ecclesiastical mindset, who reveres the traditions of the Church and very much reveres the saints he met in his life, namely Saint Porphyrios and Saint Iakovos. He manifests these gifts in many and various ways.

Also, it is a given that the entire tradition of the Church condemns homosexuality, but it loves homosexuals and tries to heal them, as it does also for heterosexuals, since not everything that is done between heterosexuals is in accordance with the will of God.

The Church knows that the saints with their love, their prayers and their pastoral service have healed many homosexuals, because it takes ones complete strength of the soul and the body to correct their state of being. The same is done with heterosexuals. Sin is the course people take from that which is according to nature and above nature to that which is against nature, thereby making repentance the course from that which is against nature to that which is in accordance with nature and above nature; it is a course of love towards God.

However, the problem which has arisen is what the aim of a talk or homily of a Metropolitan is to a particular person, which is done by the saints. We all speak to our flock and spiritually guide them in order to heal them, we even guide each one "with tears," through these "microphones" that are pervasive, and especially through social networking they take on another "pastoral" means. In other words, it takes an individual-personal word and it goes out everywhere.

This is how the whole thing happens. The pastoral word of a Hierarch within the boundaries of his diocese under his responsibility becomes a pastoral word to the entire Church, going beyond or undermining the pastoral words of other Hierarchs within the boundaries of their own diocese where they serve. Furthermore, the personalized word of a saint who speaks to a particular person with their own particularities, becomes a word for all, which may not be applicable to everyone, thus causing the problem.

Christ said: "Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces" (Matt. 7:6).

The Church takes care that its words are heard either by the catechumens or the faithful, and each spiritual father, illumined by the Holy Spirit, speaks to a certain person, and that which he says to them applies only to them and no one else. Today however within social media the ecclesiastical word has become common and universal, removing it out of the Church and it goes into every house, every office, every publication, to the cafeteria, to the police station, to the communication department, etc.

This means that every time we minister by preaching we must be careful where our sermon goes. Indeed, when in every audience, even in the church, every church-goer has with them a cell phone, which is at the same time a camera and a recording device, then we must be even more careful.

I commend His Eminence Metropolitan Neophytos of Morphou for his love for the Church, for the simplicity of his heart, his love for God, his love for the Theotokos, his love for the Church, and his love for the Saints. I know the purity of his thoughts, which should be taken into consideration by those who are concerned with the subject.

At the same time, all of us must be mindful of the way social media operates, the way it enters the Church and spreads its word to places where it is despised.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.