by Archbishop Stylianos of Australia


Dearly beloved,

With this letter, I wish to address in particular the sensitivity and charity of all the faithful of our Archdiocese in order to remind the sacredness of human life, which apparently we have not yet taken as seriously as we should.

I do not refer to the daily actions at the expense of the bodily and spiritual health of our fellow human beings or of ourselves, for which we are certainly responsible before God.

I mean rather the hardness and criminality against human life in its still embryonic state, unable to defend itself or protest.

I mean the question of mass abortions which is silently turning our contemporary — supposedly Christian, or at least humanitarian — societies into a field of invisible slaughter without anyone condemning publicly the numbers of victims and magnitude of this cruelty.

Official statistics given by the relevant state authorities claim that in New South Wales alone, during the year 1988–89 31,351 abortions took place. Of these, only 1% were necessitated by medical opinion owing to the immediate danger of the pregnant woman.

These numbers constitute a terrible sign of our behaviour in the most sacred matter in which God calls us to become His close collaborators. However, it unfortunately appears that the issue of abortion in contemporary societies has almost become a matter of routine, without any moral problematic. Otherwise one cannot explain the ease with which one decides about an abortion today, just as one decides to extract a tooth.

We must therefore remember that whatever the reason leading couples to decide to cease in a violent manner an undesired pregnancy, the good of life and of existence lies totally in God's hands, and we must know that any intervention entangles us in a profound mystery.

Our Church, as in all similar moral issues, does not respond with a blind answer of "yes" or "no". The first thing it says is "Stand well!" This means: "Be careful!" And when in this way one realises that one is dealing with a question of life or death — not only of physical death, but also spiritual — then one is in a position to weigh up in the fear of God both the opinion of responsible science and the advice of the spiritual confessor.

I wish and pray fervently that our faithful may see this tremendous moral subject with renewed responsibility and act in each specific case according to the sacredness of the problem.


With paternal love in the Lord

Archbishop Stylianos

from Voice of Orthodoxy, vol 11/1-2, January 1990
the official publication of the Greek Orthodox Archbiocese of Australia