The Preconditions for the Establishment of a System of Clinical Pastoral Care in Lithuania
The article analyses clinical pastoral care, which has not yet been investigated on academic level in Lithuania. The author overviews the evolution of the concept of clinical pastoral care on the basis of its history in Lithuania and abroad, as well as legal basis for its development in Lithuania. To achieve the set aim, the author has attempted to highlight the theoretical-practical principles of clinical pastoral care on the basis of its history and legal grounds in Lithuania.Clinical pastoral care is quite a new practice in Lithuania, which has not yet been investigated on academic basis. Although some health care institutions provide the positions of spiritual assistant and chaplain, there has been neither solid, developed and purposeful model of clinical pastoral care in Lithuania nor any research into clinical pastoral care as a holistic practice. By defining the concept of clinical pastoral care, exploring its development within the historical context and highlighting its preconditions for the establishment of a system of clinical pastoral care in Lithuania, it has been observed that clinical pastoral care (also referred to as clinical theology and pastoral medicine) is a part of pastoral theology. Clinical pastoral care is pastoral work in health care system which is a meeting point of patients, doctors, nurses, other healthcare staff and family members of the sick. Clinical pastoral care seeks to provide spiritual assistance to all of them according to their religious beliefs and spiritual needs. The history of clinical pastoral care is grounded in the healing activity of Jesus. All history of health care is closely related to Christian care of the poor, the sick and the dying. At the beginning, pastoral issues were of primary importance but later with scientific advancement and medicalisation of health care, they became ejected. Modern times witness a return to a holistic approach to the human being, the acknowledgement of his/her spiritual needs which are to be satisfied according to his/her religious beliefs. In the course of history, the influence of pastoral care was changing from the one which played a formative role in health care to the ejected and finally restored as an equal partner. In different European countries, clinical pastoral care is marked by diverse performance which depends on the legal and cultural situation of the state, the peculiarities of health care system, the network of organisations uniting and controlling professional clinical pastoral care workers. The history of clinical pastoral care in Lithuania is closely related to the history of medicine and Christianity. In this respect, it is similar to the general clinical pastoral care in the world. Christianity had a major influence on the Lithuanian health care system. Nursing and health care institutions were founded and maintained by various religious orders for a long time. Clinical pastoral care encompasses professional pastoral aid to the patients in a health care institution, their families, as well as the institution staff irrespectively of their age, sex, social status and diagnosis. Three preconditions for the establishment of a system of clinical pastoral care in Lithuania have been highlighted: historical, international and legal basis, which are sufficient to create a solid and clear system of clinical pastoral care in Lithuania. The third precondition, the legal basis, is the need to supplement the Republic of Lithuania Law on the Rights of Patients and Compensation of the Damage to their Health by an article regarding the patient’s right to re ceive pastoral assistance according to his/her beliefs. Although all the positively evaluated preconditions for the establishment of a system of clinical pastoral care in Lithuania, and even the legal basis is sufficient and legal acts allow recruiting spiritual assistants and chaplains, the reason of the absence a solid system and model of clinical pastoral care (probably a relic of Soviet rule) is there are neither people trained for this ministry nor the professionals who could provide such training.