On Tuesday, 14 January, Professor Renos Papadopoulos of the University of Essex presented a workshop at the newly opened Orthodox Centre in Landsdowne on the theme of Psychology and Orthodoxy. In welcoming Professor Papadopoulos, His Eminence Archbishop Sergios said that, while he had a long history with Cape Town – having taught at UCT in the 1970s – in the last few years he has become a great resource person for the Church here and this is the third annual presentation that he has done for our Archbishopric.
Professor Papadopoulos began his presentation by saying that he was building on the foundations that he had laid in his lecture in Cape Town two years ago, in which he argued that psychology and Orthodoxy can be complementary to one another. While psychology addresses the specific difficulties and pressures that people encounter, Orthodoxy puts this in a broader context, namely, the meaning of personal existence, life and death. While psychology aims to improve our living conditions and maximise our comforts, Orthodoxy aims to enrich us by enhancing our perception, enlarging our hearts, and leading us to deification.
Following the presentation, there was a chance for discussion and Professor Papadopoulos responded to questions which included themes such as the difficulties faced by Orthodox health professionals in a secular context, the relationship between spiritual fathers and counsellors, the issues that can be raised by growth in prayer, and whether there is any place for humility in psychological understanding. Different participants expressed the desire for more support for Orthodox professionals involved in medical and therapeutic practices.