Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Orthodox bishop gives hard-hitting address to Anglicans

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk is Chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations. Recently he gave an address to the Annual Nicean Club Dinner at Lambeth Palace in which he politely but firmly pointed out that the dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Anglicans,
"is doomed to closure if the unrestrained liberalization of Christian values continues in many communities of the Anglican world."
He referred particularly to the impact on this dialogue of the proposed ordination of women Bishops:
We have studied the preparatory documents for the decision on female episcopate and were struck by the conviction expressed in them that even if the female episcopate were introduced, ecumenical contacts with the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Churches would not come to an end. What made the authors of these documents so certain?
He also referred to the ordination in the USA of Gene Robertson, an openly homosexual Bishop, leading to the suspension of contact with the Episcopalian Church, and to the rupture of relations with the Church of Sweden in 2005 as a result of the ordination of the lesbian Eva Brunne as "Bishop" of Stockholm.

Metropolitan Hilarion rightly analysed the differences within Christianity as being between traditional Christians and Christians of a liberal trend. Significantly, he referred to a growing co-operation between the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Church with the aim of restoring a Christian soul to Europe:
We are not alone in our concern for the preservation of Christian values. Liberal tendencies in Protestant and Anglican communities present a challenge to those Christians and churches that have remained faithful to Gospel principles in doctrine, church order and morality. Certainly, we seek and find allies in opposing the destruction of the very essence of Christianity. One of the major tasks in our inter-Christian work today is to unite the efforts of Christians for building a system of solidarity on the basis of Gospel morality in Europe and throughout the world. Our positions are shared by the Roman Catholic Church, with which we have held numerous meetings and conferences. Together we are considering the possibility of establishing an Orthodox-Catholic alliance in Europe for defending the traditional values of Christianity. The primary aim of this alliance would be to restore a Christian soul to Europe. We should be engaged in common defence of Christian values against secularism and relativism.
From a Catholic point of view, it could be said that the close relationship of the Orthodox Church with Anglicanism, a relationship whose history Metropolitan Hilarion recalled warmly, was perhaps partly inspired by a resistance to closer links with the Roman Catholic Church. Now that it is apparent that the Anglican Communion is wantonly abandoning much of what is recognised as traditional Christianity in both sacramental and moral matters, it is very much to be welcomed that the Orthodox Church is discovering that the Roman Catholic Church is a true ally on many central questions. We have much to learn from the Orthodox Church too, in the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy. Pope Benedict has helped that rapprochement significantly.

H/T Robert Moynihan at Inside the Vatican
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