Skip to comments.Russian Orthodox Church calls for pan-Christian alliance
Posted on 10/01/2006 5:09:44 AM PDT by Kolokotronis
Rodos, Greece, September 29, Interfax - The Moscow Patriarchate has voiced concern about differences between various churches and has called for the creation of a strategic alliance between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches to defend traditional Christianity, primarily in Europe.
"The fact that the Russian Orthodox Church has already severed dialogue with the Episcopal Church [The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America] and the Church of Sweden [due to its approval of same-sex marriages] show that Christian society has begun to disintegrate," the Moscow Patriarchate's representative at European and international organizations, Bishop Ilarion of Vienna and Austria said at the Dialogue of Civilizations forum being held at Rodos, Greece.
It is becoming more and more difficult to speak about Christianity as a unique system of values shared by all Christians of the world or, at least, by the majority of Christians. "The existing abysm divides traditionalists and liberals rather than Orthodox and Catholics, Catholics and Protestants," he said.
In this situation it is necessary to consolidate the efforts of all Churches that consider themselves to be "Churches of Tradition," that is Catholics and Orthodox including pre-Chalcedonian [ancient Eastern] Churches, he said.
"I am not speaking about the serious dogmatic differences that exist between these Churches and which should be discussed in terms of bilateral dialogue. I am speaking about the need to conclude a certain strategic alliance, a pact, a union for between these Churches defending traditional Christianity - a defense against the challenges of modern times, be it militant liberalism or militant atheism," he said.
It's very good to see this. I don't favor the sort of ecumenism that assumes that we're all going to come together and be one big, happy, institutional church. That may happen some day, but probably not in my lifetime. And I'd question whether it was necessary or even desirable.
Traditional Christians are being assaulted from many sides. We Catholics (eastern and western) have a whole heck of a lot more in common with our Orthodox bretheren than we do the culture of death.
This is welcoming news in a world where secularism has become the 'de rigueur' religion of the populace and firing salvos at the traditional family unit is the newest form of attack. We Catholics and Orthodox, live in frightening times.
Some kind of Christian Confederation, or Christian League is wellcomed.
We should go step by step, something to counter Islamic Alliance is needed.
but most importent this is true view of problems in world:
"The existing abysm divides traditionalists and liberals rather than Orthodox and Catholics, Catholics and Protestants,"
Biggest problem are acts of Liberals and not Catholics and Protestants, or Ortodox.
Excellent idea, and very positive that it is coming not only from the Orthodox side, but from the Russians (who have been less than positive about these things in the past).
What he recognizes is that orthodox doctrine is the thing that such a joint effort could (or must) be based on. I thought it was interesting that he clearly ruled out the churches whose doctrine has wandered from the truth and regarded them as being part of the problem.
I think he's absolutely right. I think the Pope was getting at this point in his Regensburg address, too, although the point about the diluting effect on faith of certain post-Reformation tendencies was lost and what captured world interest was the part about Islam. (Of course, that may have been because of the death threats and riots...)
Thank you for the news, I'll blog about it in Vivificat!
"...from the Russians (who have been less than positive about these things in the past)."
Yes and no. In recent times, the Russian Church has been the real bulwark against the idea of false unions of any kind (other local Orthodox Churches have been more vocal, but we all know that their boldness is in large part a result of knowing that Russia stands behind them.)
The Russian Church continues, in general, to take a dim view of theological game-playing that would lead anyone to think that union with non-Orthodox is possible. We leave those things to Metropolitan John Zizoulas. You will note that this call is not one for *ecclesiatical* unity, which is what the ecumenically minded are so concerned about.
There are those who believe that cooperation in the societal realm can only take place when we are in ecclesiastical unity. I think that this is what recent Russian statements have contradicted. There is a strong strain within the current Slavic tradition that believes that ecclesiastical unity is not necessary in order to oppose rampant atheistic secularism.
I would also point out that prior to the Revolution, it was the Russian Church that had the most active involvement in theological talks with non-Orthodox. Metropolitan Anthony (who later became first hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad), was particularly involved in talks with Anglicans at the turn of the last century, and held out great hope that his talks would lead to a return of Anglicanism to beliefs and practices such that union with Orthodoxy could take place.
As has been detailed in other threads, Metropolitan Tikhon had the same sorts of talks and relations with American Episcopalians and was very optimistic.
In both cases (certainly in America), the problem was that they hadn't yet realized that there were numerous strains within Anglicanism, one of which was a residual "Anglo-Catholicism" of the non-Juror tradition, which is indeed the closest non-Orthodox thing that there is to Orthodoxy. But they weren't meeting the others...
"The Russian Church continues, in general, to take a dim view of theological game-playing that would lead anyone to think that union with non-Orthodox is possible. We leave those things to Metropolitan John Zizoulas. You will note that this call is not one for *ecclesiatical* unity, which is what the ecumenically minded are so concerned about."
Sort of a cheap shot, A. Met. John, one of the most renowned theologians in Orthodoxy, is the representative of the EP to the renewed Orthodox/Latin dialog in which the Russians are participating. When the Orthodox reps met with the EP before the Belgrade meeting, he specifically cautioned them against glossing over any theological differences in the hopes of creating untiy where there is none. He went on to warn them, however, against those Romans or Orthodox who would throw up false barriers to constructive discussions. It seems to me that both warnings were warranted.
Sorry, I didn't mean to stir up a little bit of pan-Orthodox disunity here, and I wasn't blaming anyone for this historically but simply commenting on my experience.
That said, I hope we can all agree that this is an excellent idea, and he is focusing on what is the most important thing in Church unity at any level: orthodox faith. Otherwise, as I think the Pope was trying to point out, the world whittles it away, and we have no basis for defense against theories ranging from postmodern secularism to Islam. Without orthodoxy, it's just another WCC, that is, a basically secularist, soft-focus lefty organization that ultimately ends up taking positions that are even opposed to Christianity and Christians.
Sounds good to me.
No cheap shot was intended, but looking back, it certainly was one, and I should have refrained from that comment.
I actually first heard about Zizoulas from a pious and philosophically-minded Russian emigre who was a real fan of his writing. I didn't care for what I saw when I looked up things Zizoulas had written, but neither was my Russian emigre friend a fan of those I read assiduously, such as Metr. Hierotheos (Vlachos). To each his own.
Zizoulas's writings are often (and probably selectively) used by those who wish to portray Orthodoxy and Catholicism as being on the brink of theological unity -- which can make the more high-profile opponents of such union who believe that such a union is very, very far off, look like unthinking knuckle-dragging obstructionists.
As our detailed discussions on many threads regarding original sin, pneumatology and its practical implications, clericalism and centralization, papal claims, the theology of the filioque, etc... have made pretty clear, opposition to such union is hardly unthinking and knuckle-dragging by definition -- rather only by choice and ignorance.
I agree with the statement that there should neither be a glossing over of real barriers nor a throwing up of false barriers.
Zizoulas's cautionary comments about glossing over real differences don't seem to be the ones that get the press, though.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to stir up a little bit of pan-Orthodox disunity here..."
You think that was disunity? You obviously haven't spent enough time around the Orthodox. When we have an argument, trust me, you'll know it.
K and I could have an exchange far hotter than that while clinking glasses being refilled with Scotch faster than you could say "Opa!"
Does this have implications for the Orthodox participation in the World Council of Churches?
"Does this have implications for the Orthodox participation in the World Council of Churches?"
It should...but given some of the clowns in the GOA, which really picks up the tab for the EP, I doubt it will. The argument is that the WCC needs an Orthodox witness. I think it needs an Orthodox anathema.
"Zizoulas's cautionary comments about glossing over real differences don't seem to be the ones that get the press, though."
The warnings were from Met. John's boss, the EP. Here is what he said:
"As far as the second goal of our gathering is concerned, the substance of the meetings that will be held during the new phase of the Dialogue, the problem of ecclesiology, with special reference to the issue of Primacy in the Church, in which the issue of Uniatism, which detained the Dialogue in the last decade, will be added, will be the theme of discussion. All the Orthodox Churches have agreed on this after the visits to them by the Metropolitans of Pergamon and Sassima, and, therefore, this gathering cannot review or reconsider this Inter-Orthodox decision. However, you are called to exchange thoughts on the best way for us to contribute to the future discussion of the timely issue of the unification of the Church. We are confident that this gathering will prove useful and beneficial towards this goal as well.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate always wishes that the rapprochement of these two most ancient Churches and traditions will be realized and that all the obstacles of the unity of Christians will be overcome. Nevertheless, the Ecumenical Patriarchate does not accept the opinion that this unity, for which we are all working, will be realized by the common acceptance of a minimum of common faith, thus leaving all differences and difficulties aside, as a kind of acceptable variety. In this dialogue there are also issues that neither touch upon the faith, or on issues that the Ecumenical Synods have decided upon. These issues are allowed to be dealt with differently by the various local Christian communities. However, regarding the issues of faith, unity is necessary, and it must be pursued within the framework of the undivided, before the schism, Church. Furthermore, even if there are amongst our interlocutors some who pursue purposes other than the revelation of the truth, our attitude and position must, unfalteringly and without any passion, be towards the immovable goal, namely, the witnessing of the truth. For, although we seem to be discussing only with a certain group of people, the reality is that we are discussing with the entire Roman Catholic world. And within it there are certainly many honest people who are searching for the truth. These people are our real discussants, even though we do not know them, nor do we have direct contact with them. Let us not forget that through this Dialogue we are responsible towards God and History."
Bravo! My sentiments exactly!
As our resident psaltis, today is something of a feast day for you, A. (Got to be nice to him, livius!)
Kontakion - Tone 8
You were adorned from childhood with the godly virtues of the Spirit;
you were a precious adornment of the Church of Christ, all-wise Romanus,
for you made it lovely with beautiful hymnody.
Therefore, we entreat you, grant your divine gift to those who desire it,
that we may cry out to you: "Rejoice, all-blessed Father, beauty of the Church."
Troparion - Tone 4
You gladdened Christ's Church by your melodies
like an inspired heavenly trumpet.
You were enlightened by the Mother of God
and shone on the world as God's poet.
We lovingly honor you, righteous Romanus.
Heck, we have more in common with Southern Baptists.
I'm no fan of the WCC/NCC but its my understanding that originally the precursor organizations which led to it were more like this (and more in line with real Christian values); more an organization to promote the common things churches beleive.
Europe could really use this. Frankly it wouldn't hurt America either.
I didn't know that. Many years!
The MP (Who's calling for this) is a WCC member, but has signlaed they may pull out [while at the same time insisting they are there more to call the heretics attention to true Christian values than to promote the WCC dictates].
ROCOR which is more less joing with the MP will probably not join the WCC or NCC activities the MP does. (In fact they haven't exactly signaled that they are going to join SCOBA which is a pan-orthodox group in North America).
Other jurisdictions are all getting preassure from their parishoners to leave; they probably will sooner than latter.
I agree, but I think it would also be a really great idea to get together a group that could at least assent to all the propositions of the Creed ...something the WCC has not been able to do for many a long year.
Of course, this would immediately disqualify all the liberal churches or liberal divisions of otherwise sane churches. But that's okay, since for some mysterious reason, liberals are all out there praising Islam these days. Go figure.
Actually, I've been very surprised by Cdl Kasper. He was definitely on the liberal side and was also one of Ratzinger's rivals for the Papacy. But he has emerged as quite orthodox in his dealings with - well, the Orthodox - and has also been quite firm on Islam. One never knows what the Holy Spirit is going to do, I guess...
But I agree, I think there are signs that something is in the works.
"I agree, but I think it would also be a really great idea to get together a group that could at least assent to all the propositions of the Creed ...something the WCC has not been able to do for many a long year."
You won't find any argument from me on that!
"Actually, I've been very surprised by Cdl Kasper. He was definitely on the liberal side and was also one of Ratzinger's rivals for the Papacy. But he has emerged as quite orthodox in his dealings with - well, the Orthodox - and has also been quite firm on Islam. One never knows what the Holy Spirit is going to do, I guess...
But I agree, I think there are signs that something is in the works."
I am advised that the recently concluded session of the renewed dialog at Belgrade went very, very well and further that the patristic influence of +BXVI contributed mightily to a different and better atmosphere at the meeting.
I think that is going to be an enormous benefit to all. I have been reading some of his writings, mostly compilations of lectures or addresses he delivered before he was Pope, and I have been amazed by his sources and where he is looking for the authentic spring of doctrine. He's also one of those people who can write a sentence that I have to think about all night, not because it's complicated (he writes very simply), but because it's so laden with meaning.
Thanks much to you both. I have an icon of St. Romanos hanging above the kliros where I can always see him while directing the choir, and another in my study/lair/inner sanctum at home where I pray that he guides me into true psaltiness...
We Baptists have more in common with you Catholics and Orthodox Christians than we do with the Mohammedanism culture of death. Fear not. The gates of hell cannot prevail against the church as the Lord Jesus Christ sets it in place as it suits himself.
Interesting. Many believe that the end time beast power will be a unified Europe, a revived Roman empire, with a strong unified religion supporting it.
"Many believe that the end time beast power will be a unified Europe, a revived Roman empire, with a strong unified religion supporting it."
People believe many odd things. Personally, I think Revelations should have been left out of the canon of the NT considering the "interpretations" it has engendered.
Daniel too? Because that's actually a more detailed account of the beast power to come.
"We Baptists have more in common with you Catholics and Orthodox Christians than we do with the Mohammedanism culture of death."
No disagreements there. Any time y'all want to get together, come on down and see us.
As the good Dr. Stephen Maturin says in one of Patrick O'Brien's novels, "he who would make a pun would pick a pocket..."
Sorry, I couldn't resist that lowest form of humor when it started coming out of my fingertips. Just couldn't bring myself to hit the backspace key... :-)