September 17, 2014

Met. Hilarion: An Alliance of Faith (Orthodox – Catholic Cooperation)

Pope Benedict meets Abp. Hilarion in Rome (file)

Highlight: Our challenges “…are first and foremost the challenges of a godless world, which is equally hostile today to Orthodox believers and Catholics, the challenge of the aggressive Islamic movement, the challenge of moral corruption, family decay, the abandonment by many people in traditionally Christian countries of the traditional family structure, liberalism in theology and morals, which is eroding the Christian community from within. We can respond to these, and a number of other challenges, together.”

“The idea of a strategic alliance with the Catholics– is an old idea of mine. It came to me when the Catholics were electing the new Pope. Although I would like to point out that what I am suggesting is, in essence, the direct opposite of Uniatism, which is a way toward a rapprochement based on doctrinal compromises. In our point of view, the policy of Uniatism had suffered complete failure. Not only did it not bring the Orthodox Christians and Catholics closer together, it actually distanced them. And Uniatism, as is currently recognized by both Orthodox believers and Catholics, is not the path toward unity.

Source: Question More | Elena Yakovleva

Moscow Patriarchate calls for strategic alliance with Catholic Church

­The Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church should accept each other not as rivals, but first and foremost as allies, working to protect the rights of Christians, said “the Lavrov of the Church”, head of the ROC’s Department for External Church Relations, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, while speaking at the International Christian Congress in Wurzburg, Germany.

This year Easter celebrations coincide for the Orthodox and Catholic faiths. Bishop Hilarion told Rossiiskaya Gazeta how the two Churches could develop an allied position without damaging their integrity, dogmas, and principles.

“Today, the Orthodox and Catholic Christians should accept each other not as rivals, but as allies working to protect the rights of Christians. We share a common field of missionary work.” said Metropolitan Hilarion, while speaking at the fourth international congress in Wurzburg, stressing that “the future of Christianity in the third millennium depends on the joint efforts of the Orthodox believers and Catholics.’’

Bishop Hilarion commented on his statement to RG as follows.

“The idea of a strategic alliance with the Catholics– is an old idea of mine. It came to me when the Catholics were electing the new Pope. Although I would like to point out that what I am suggesting is, in essence, the direct opposite of Uniatism, which is a way toward a rapprochement based on doctrinal compromises. In our point of view, the policy of Uniatism had suffered complete failure. Not only did it not bring the Orthodox Christians and Catholics closer together, it actually distanced them. And Uniatism, as is currently recognized by both Orthodox believers and Catholics, is not the path toward unity.

“I, on the other hand, am asking to – without any doctrinal compromises and without attempts to artificially level our dogmatic differences, the teachings about the Church and about the superiority of the Universal Church, without the claims to resolve all of the existing problems between us – act as allies, at the same time, without being a single Church, without having a single administrative system or common liturgy, and while maintaining the differences on the points in which we differ.

“This is especially important in light of the common challenges that face both Orthodox and Catholic Christians. They are first and foremost the challenges of a godless world, which is equally hostile today to Orthodox believers and Catholics, the challenge of the aggressive Islamic movement, the challenge of moral corruption, family decay, the abandonment by many people in traditionally Christian countries of the traditional family structure, liberalism in theology and morals, which is eroding the Christian community from within. We can respond to these, and a number of other challenges, together.

“I would like to stress, once more, that there are well-known doctrinal differences between the Orthodox and Catholic faiths, but there are also common positions in regard to morality and social issues which, today, are not shared by many of the representatives of liberal Protestantism. Therefore, cooperation is first and foremost necessary between the Orthodox and Catholic Christians – and that is what I call a strategic alliance.

“The Church is not ready to make any compromises. And I am not calling for compromise, but on the contrary, to uncompromisingly defend our positions. Within the framework of the Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, my position is often the toughest. Meanwhile, the documents that are drafted there, are the most often contested by the ROC delegations. There have been instances when we were forced to walk out of sessions as a sign of disagreement with what was happening. We always very firmly oppose attempts to erode the differences that exist between us.

“We don’t need any compromises. We need cooperation and collaboration. And within the framework of the theological commission, we could discuss the differences that exist between us not in order to find a compromise, but in order to clarify our differences and the things we have in common. It could so happen that in the course of discussion we realize that in some doctrinal aspects we are actually closer than seemed to be before – and this will be a rapprochement. But just the opposite could happen: we may see the differences that we have never noticed before.

“The theological dialogue should be allowed to take its course; it may or may not lead to some results. Meanwhile, cooperation that is built on a systematic basis and that is founded on the fact that we share many of the same tasks and challenges should be developed at the same time.”

Comments

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    George Patsourakos says:

    The Russian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church have been working diligently during the past few months to bring these two churches closer together. It would not surprise me one iota if Pope Benedict XVI and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia met later this year, in an effort to achieve Catholic-Orthodox unity.

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      Scott Pennington says:

      They’re not cooperating to unite their churches. They’re cooperating to battle European secularism. The Russians have consistently said that a meeting between the Pope and Pat. Kirill is premature until matters of Orthodox-Catholic relations in Eastern Europe are resolved. Met. Hilarion in particular has publicly mused that it may take hundreds of years for reunification. This is more of a partnership against a common enemy.

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    Geo Michalopulos says:

    time will certainly tell. My sense is that they view themselves as being of like mind on the important cultural issues. That is very important, because true unity at the Chalice could not take place unless both parties saw eye-to-eye on these issues. Otherwise, you would have the Eucharistic unity that the Anglicans enjoy with each other but which means nothing and makes a mockery of the Body and Blood of our Lord and Savior.

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    PO'F says:

    I guess, given his recent overtures to U.S. Fundamentalist Protestants as well, His Eminence is moving towards a WCC of the Right, only including Old Rome also?

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      Yes, but only superficially. Liberal outfits like the NCC and the WCC (although much less liberal in recent years) are essentially powerless to speak to the cultural decline given their ideas and thus tend to serve the tyrants (that’s what makes them liberal). The NCC in particular has seen their role as providing moral cover for tyrants.

      The difference then, is the orientation toward the moral tradition. Liberal outfits tend to subvert the tradition so that it loses authority in the culture, conservatives see the tradition as the well-spring to cultural renewal. I’m overstating this to draw the distinction of course, but not by much.

      Further, “U.S. Fundamentalist Protestants” is only a superficial reading as well. Presbyterians are not fundamentalist, unless you expand the definition to include everyone except Rome and the Orthodoxy, in which case it becomes meaningless.

      Met. Hilarion seems to follow the same track outlined in recent appearances to Protestant groups by Met. Timothy Ware:

      What Can Evangelicals and Orthodox Learn from One Another? [AUDIO]

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        Scott Pennington says:

        “Met. Hilarion seems to follow the same track outlined in recent appearances to Protestant groups by Met. Timothy Ware”

        I’m not sure about that. Metropolitan Hillarion is less prone to “doctrinal compromises” than Met. Kallistos seems to be. You’ll notice that the thrust of this piece is about a cooperation regarding moral witness vis a vis European secularism (and vis a vis Islam). Met. Kallistos’ comments were about doctrinal appreciation to a large extent. Probably as a result of his involvement in the ecumenical movement and his involvement with Western academia, he has in recent years made some surprising statements. Met. Hillarion is more prone to say things like – – and I paraphrase from memory – – “there is some considerable overlap or common ground between the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic faiths, but very much less between the Orthodox and Protestantism.” Of course, that’s only broadly true. Some Protestants are closer to Orthodoxy than others. Nonetheless, the urge to reconcile by bluring distinctions seems much more active within the Greek church than in the Russian one. Met. Hillarion himself implies this:

        “Within the framework of the Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, my position is often the toughest. Meanwhile, the documents that are drafted there, are the most often contested by the ROC delegations. There have been instances when we were forced to walk out of sessions as a sign of disagreement with what was happening. We always very firmly oppose attempts to erode the differences that exist between us. ”

        If that is true vis a vis Roman Catholicism, which he considers to overlap to some considerable extent with Orthodoxy, it would be much more so with Protestantism. The spirit of the two hierarchs remarks are quite different.

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      George Michalopulos says:

      PO’F, what would be wrong with that? I would rather fellowship with other Christians who are at least serious about their faith.

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    Andrew says:

    I have to say that I have praised the Metropolitan here but I have been down on him since his response to George Weigel claiming the forcible integration of Ukrainian Catholics into Russian Orthodoxy was acceptable. Forced conversion is never acceptable for an Orthodox Christian. A Church should not build its flock by political force. Eastern Rite Catholics have every right to freely exist and worship in Russia and countries of the former soviet union.

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      Briton says:

      I agree entirely with Andrew. I think that the Vatican is too savvy to fall for Metropolitan Hilarion’s blandishments. After all, the Russian Orthodox Church won’t allow the Vatican to have its own mission in Russia – a country where the Orthodox Church attracts less than a million committed adherents out of a population of around 140,000,000. Hilarion is hardly arguing from a position of strength.

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    Andrew says:

    Thanks Briton! I think George Weigel exposed Metropolitan Hilarion. How on earth can any Orthodox Hierarch claim that the forced integration of Ukrainian Catholics into Orthodoxy is morally acceptable? Eastern rite Catholics have every right to exist and worship in Orthodox lands. Its called religious freedom…….

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