Here are some excerpts from a Greek report, which though not from the Orthodox Church itself, is very illuminating. It is entitled on “Welfare, Church, and Gender in Greece,” by Effie Fokas & Lina Molokotos Liederman:
“Beyond state benefits and the informal but important care provided by the family, social needs that are not fully satisfied by the family or the state are usually filled by private or voluntary sectors (international organisations with Greek branches, such as the Red Cross, SOS Children’s Villages, etc.) and the Church. Therefore, the Greek case is a good example of the Southern European welfare model, with a classic underdeveloped state welfare sector coupled with the important role played by the family and women in providing essential social care. In this bi-polar model, the Orthodox Church is a third source, offering a wide array of social services, including the provision of support services for women and the family (see part II). The Greek example is schematically described as a triangular welfare model (state-family/women-church), in which the family and women seem to act both as providers and receivers of social care.” p. 298
“Finally, there are a variety of state financed programmes for persons with disabilities (such as disability benefits and boarding houses for semi-independent living and full-time living for disabled persons, as well as, activity centres and summer camps for persons with disabilities) and other vulnerable groups (refugees and asylum seekers and Greek Roma communities) in collaboration with NGOs.85.” (P. 301)
“Before highlighting the Greek Church’s actual social work, it is important to note a tendency for it to not publicly promote its welfare work, primarily because it takes place at the level of local interaction between the parish priest and individuals. Furthermore, the Church considers publicising its social work to be contrary to the principles of philanthropy and the Orthodox ethos.190 Therefore, the Church’s organisations and monasteries involved in social activities also tend usually to act locally and informally and, thus, to avoid any type of public visibility of their social work, seemingly being more interested in offering social services rather than receiving public recognition for their work; in this way, they also tend to have an inward focus and operate in a closed network with minimal cooperation with other non-religious organisations involved in similar activities.” P. 318
“The Church’s social services are put into action by local parish priests and other religious and non-religious staff (paid and unpaid laymen and laywomen), working for the Church in various capacities. Moreover, the Church benefits from a large network of volunteers it has created; according to 2001 statistics, the Church has an active network of approximately 23,000 people who are utilised and mobilised on a regular basis, offering their services to the great variety of social services provided by the Church … including … “Christian Solidarity“: charitable funds established by the Archdiocese of Athens and other metropolises; they provide locally, at the parish level, material and other types of support to a variety of individuals (elderly, single mothers, people with special needs, etc), suffering from poverty and financial and social exclusion, such as shelter and food (”soup kitchens”/sisitia), scholarships, child and elderly care, blood donations, etc. In 2003, there were 1,839 such funds. … People with special needs: assistance to individuals with special needs (for example, the blind) including medical care, financial assistance, psychological counselling, institutional care, training and professional occupation and leisure, as part of a wider effort to improve their insertion and integration into Greek society. Some local metropolises, which are active in this area, employ a large number of individuals with special needs (such as in the painting of icons, in gardening, in cooking and kitchens, etc). (pp. 319-322)
The original report does not seem to be currently available online; here is a bibliographic reference to it:
MOLOKOTOS-LIEDERMAN, Lina, FOKAS, Effie, “Welfare, Church and Gender in Greece”, in Welfare, Church and Gender in Eight European Countries. Uppsala, Institute of Diaconal and Social Studies – University of Uppsala / Ed. Ninna Edgardh Beckman, 2004, p. Uppsala, Institute of Diaconal and Social Studies – University of Uppsala / Ninna Edgardh Ed Beckman, 2004, p. 288-338.
For more from Effie Fokas and Lina Molokotos Liederman, scroll to the end of the post.
And here are some previous posts of interest concerning Greek disability resources for convenient reference:
from Nov. 9, 2007:
from Dec. 28, 2007:
from Nov. 8, 2007:
from Nov. 6, 2007:
More from Effie Focas:
More from Lina Molokotos Liederman:
Lina was the Orthodox Diakonia Coordinator for IOCC: http://www.iocc.org/orthodoxdiakonia/index.php?id=survey