April 18, 2014

Russian Orthodox Leader Stands for Principle

Here we see it unfolding. Orthodox Christianity has much to give the world, and it begins with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and a vigorous defense of biblical teaching through the wisdom and experience of our Orthodox tradition. And the teachings must be clear on the foundational issues that determine whether a culture and people lives or dies: the sanctity of life, marriage and family, sexuality, and the moral principles people have held to for centuries. This must be the message of Orthodox leaders. There is no other.

Source: American Thinker

The "great man" theory of history — that strong, unique, and highly influential individuals shape history (for good or ill) through their commanding personal characteristics that imbue them with power and influence over a specific period of time or during certain circumstances — may not be as widely accepted today among professional historians as in the past, but for many of us there is no denying what our own experience shows us: An individual’s influence can have dramatic impact in specific situations or historic eras.

One contemporary leader who has that potential is Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev of Moscow, who serves the Patriarch of Moscow as chairman of External Relations for the Russian Orthodox Church.  His education and training has prepared him for profound impact on the church and culture; Metropolitan Hilarion is the author of more than 300 publications, including numerous books in Russian, English, French, Italian, German, and Finnish.  In addition to a doctoral degree in philosophy from Oxford, he also holds a doctorate in theology from St. Sergius Orthodox Theological Institute in Paris.

His experience, too, has prepared him for a significant role, not only in his own church but throughout Europe and the United States as well.  It was a moment of high drama three years ago this month when then-Bishop Hilarion burst into the consciousness of many American Christians.  Thanks mainly to a report from the Institute on Religion and Democracy (the IRD), we know about the bold statement he made at a meeting of the liberal World Council of Churches (WCC) in which he challenged the WCC on the most important moral issues of our day, particularly abortion and modern attempts to redefine marriage.  According to the IRD, he asked: "When are we going to stop making Christianity politically correct and all-inclusive?"  … "Why do we insist on accommodating every possible alternative to the centuries-old Christian tradition?  Where is the limit, or is there no limit at all?"  And this: "Many Christians worldwide look to Christian leaders in the hope that they will defend Christianity against the challenges that it faces. … Our holy mission is to preach what Christ preached, to teach what the apostles taught, and to propagate what the holy Fathers propagated."

The IRD’s observer summarized it perfectly: One could almost imagine a "Preach it, brother!" ringing out from the evangelical amen corner.

To say that it was "bold" for Hilarion to take such a stand in such a place somehow doesn’t do it justice.  It had the "holy boldness" people remember of St. Nicholas.  No, not the modern secular derivation, "Santa Claus," but the real, live St. Nicholas, better remembered for extravagant generosity and such strong Gospel-faithfulness that one tradition says he boxed the ears of the heretic Arius at the Council of Nicea.

Just recently, Metropolitan Hilarion came to D.C. to meet with evangelicals who are concerned about family values and support the sanctity of life.  Along with fifteen other evangelical leaders, CWA’s Dr. Janice Crouse joined the Metropolitan at a luncheon at the Russian-American Institute.  Others attending the luncheon included: Michael Cromartie of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Larry Jacobs of the World Congress of Families, Richard Land of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, Paul Marshall of the Hudson Institute, and Mark Tooley of the Institute on Religion and Democracy.

The Metropolitan heard from each of those attending and addressed both theological and social issues.  While he made it clear that he wanted to build bridges with representatives of different and varied theological positions, he was firm in stating that productive dialogue with religious groups is impossible with those who hold to non-Biblical beliefs.  As a case in point, he noted that the Orthodox Church could no longer dialogue with the Episcopal Church because of its new practice of ordaining practicing homosexual clergy.

He discussed the common challenges facing the different faiths, especially the destruction of the family by secular society and negative influences of the media on morality.  He was especially concerned about the values crisis — the decline in marriage and the increase in divorce and cohabitation — and the undermining of the moral principles that people have held for centuries.  He lamented the fact that political correctness is replacing personal convictions and Biblical orthodoxy.

Clearly, Metropolitan Hilarion’s consistent animating principle is fidelity to Christ and the truth of the Christian gospel. Therein lie the unfailing wellsprings of charity, mercy, and saving grace.  CWA looks forward to working closely with this influential Christian leader.

Janice Shaw Crouse, Ph.D. is director and senior fellow, The Beverly LaHaye Institute, Concerned Women for America. George Tryfiates is Executive Director, Concerned Women for America

Comments

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    Eliot Ryan says:

    There is a lot of emphasis on critical thinking in today’s schools and colleges. There are many definitions of critical thinking. The simplest I’ve found defines the term as “the ability to rationally decide what to do and what to believe”. In order to be able to rationally decide what to do and in what to believe, one needs to be informed AND needs to ponder the matter in great depth. I am going to attempt to prove that rational thinking should lead people to the truth of the Orthodox faith.
    .
    In order to do this I’ll start with the very beginning of the One Christian Apostolic Church. Pentecost is called “the birthday of the Church”. It was the Holy Spirit that changed the doubtful and fearing apostles into brave man full of faith. The testimony of the twelve men known as the Apostles was so powerful it that became the foundation of an entire new civilization.
    .
    The change of civilization happened gradually and occurred centuries after all of the Apostles (except St. John) were martyred. The work of the Holy Spirit did not stop after the Apostles departed to the Lord. The same and One Holy Spirit worked with power in the lives of the holy martyrs, Confessors and Saints. In the beginning, the Church greatly suffered three centuries of Persecution of Christians .
    .
    The year 313 A.D. was considered to be the triumph of Christianity. Constantine ordered freedom of Christian worship, gave privileges to Christians and their clergy, and abolished punishment by crucification. However, the ending of the persecution in the Early Church did not mean that the Church did not continue to struggle. It became easier, indeed fashionable, to become a Christian. New members with pagan pasts were accommodated in the Church. The church, which had known such prolonged oppression, was faced with a flood of errors and heresies, even further assaults and massacres. During the iconoclastic uprising, the brutalities against faithful Christians were not less atrocious than the same of the paganism.
    .
    Having the freedom of worship and teaching, the Christian Church started to better organize itself in order to defend and proclaim the truth. While fighting against errors and heresies the Church managed to organize its system of doctrines and establish the necessary rules of church discipline. This laid the the foundation of Church life, the rules and regulations of the Church which have the power of the law in the Church, and are known as the canons of the Church.
    .
    The cannons of the Church were composed and enacted by the Ecumenical Councils

    “that lasted hundreds of days, abounding with signs and miracles, with the Holy Spirit! This is how the truth was established at the Seven Ecumenical Councils.(Elder Arsenie Papacioc)”

    . The Holy Fathers preserved the faith and the teaching of the Church from the beginning, which the Lord gave, and the Apostles preached. The Holy Fathers set boundaries between truth and falsehood, light and darkness, and kept the teaching of the Apostles. These are principles from the Lord Himself. “Neither the apostle himself nor an angel from heaven can preach or teach any otherwise than Christ has once taught and His apostles have announced”.

    “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any otherwise than that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that you have received, let him be anathema.” Galatians 1:6-9

    What do we see today? False teachers and propagandists, thousands of denominations, and an equal number of different rules. The same and One Holy spirit cannot teach people how to pray, confess, fast, and baptize in different ways. The Church has disintegrated into various branches since the schism of 1054. New “teachings” introduced in that time period included the concepts of papal infallibility, immaculate conception, and purgatory.

    How can it be that the Vatican say that Roman Catholics believe in the same God as the Muslims? Jesus from Nazareth came and said He was a servant of God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. When the Vatican expresses that their God is the same God as the God in Islam, they do not believe in the same God as Jews and Christians. http://ivarfjeld.wordpress.com/2010/04/26/rome-and-teheran-believe-in-the-same-god/

    The different teaching on the holy sacraments also contrasts with the tradition of the Church. The inner life of the Church, where man becomes “god by grace” (St. Athanasios the Great) through the reception of the Divine Energies or Grace of God, is centered on the Holy Mysteries (or Sacraments). In this volume, Elder Cleopa explains the origins, meaning and purpose of the Holy Mysteries of Baptism, Chrismation, Holy Communion, Confession, the Priesthood, Marriage, and Holy Unction, while also deconstruction the errors of those who misunderstand or reject this life in Christ. Squarely based, as always, on Holy Scripture and its interpretation by the Holy Fathers of every age, Elder Cleopa brings to light neglected knowledge and rejected counsel stored up for so many centuries in the Orthodox Church — insights that could have helped avoid the disintegration of the Western church, and which may still aid in its restoration and renewal even today.
    .
    Contemporary martyrs and saints yet to be canonized were steadfast in the same teachings. They endured ten to twenty years of persecution, prison and torture during communism and yet remained faithful to the teachings of the Holy Fathers and preserved by the Orthodox Church.
    .
    Without doubt, the Gospel, the teachings of Holy Fathers, and the teachings of contemporary spiritual fathers and saints, such as St Nikolai (Velimirovich), Abba Justin (Popovich) and Fr Vojislav (Dosenovich) in the Serbian Church, Fr Cleopa, Fr Ilarion (Argatu), Fr Dionysius (Ignat), Fr Paisie (Olaru), Fr Arsenie (Boca) and Fr Arsenie (Papacioc) of Romania, Metropolitan Zinovy (Mazhuga) of the Georgian Church, St John of Shanghai, Elder Seraphim of Belgorod, Fr Vitaly (Sidorenko), Fr Seraphim (Romantsov), Elder Sabbas of the Pskov Caves, Fr Zosima (Sokur), Fr John (Krestiankin) in the Russian Church, the Elders Porphyrios, Paisios and Amphilochios in the Greek Church are the same because they were inspired by the One Holy Spirit.
    .
    If a fresh, well fed and rested modern “thinking” person would come to teach me differently that the Apostles, the holy Fathers and contemporary saints and martyrs, I would have to think of a polite expression for “Get behind me Satan”.

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    Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion is to be commended for adhering to Orthodox Christian values and the teachings of Christ, rather than accepting “modern fads,” such as abortion, cohabitation, and homosexuality. Indeed, it is his herculean support of Christian values and his persistent rejection of these “modern fads” — regardless of whom he is speaking to — that have had a significant impact in making Metropolitan Hilarion the renown church leader that he is.

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    Alexander says:

    If “rational” means giving a reason, you certainly give good reason why people could be lead to the Orthodox faith.

    But, if “rational” means logical, I’m afraid that there will never be a valid logical argument why anyone should be lead to Orthodoxy and live their lives in accordance with its precepts and tradition. By definition, faith is logical nonsense. And there is nothing offensive, demeaning, or irreverent to suggest that it is. Western Christianity spent centuries attempting to logically “prove” the existence of God. Sorry, no one ever did it. And, no one ever will. For in the end, logic is little more than a tool — like math and geometry — that has its limitations.

    The epistimology of faith is disconnected from epistimologies based on logic and reason and for that matter science. I understand that someone once asked St. Nicholai of Libertyville how he believed God exists. Apparently, his response was a resounding “no,” explaining that he did not believe God existed. Instead, he said that he “knew” God existed.

    Orthodoxy is predicated upon a personal encounter with the Resurrected Christ. It is not logical.

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    Alexander, your argument that “faith is not logical” is sheer nonsense. Read any of the great Christian theologians and apologists and the reasoned and logical defense of Christianity is plain for all to see. I would recommend Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis as a starting point. His eloquent and reasoned defense of the core beliefs and truths of the Christian faith are truly awe-inspiring and timeless.

    A master at appealing to logic and presenting issues in a whole new light, Lewis is not afraid to boldly and bluntly proclaim the obvious. An agnostic in his younger years, Lewis understood the objections of non-believers and dealt with their arguments head on. Perhaps one of his most well-known observations, recorded in the pages of Mere Christianity, concerns the “foolish” ideas people hold regarding Christ: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” Lewis magnificently disposes with that kind of naive and fallacious thinking in just one paragraph:

    A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic – on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God; or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.

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    Alexander says:

    Chris,

    I differ and I suspect that we forever will.

    That Christ is Saviour, God incarnate Who has destroyed death and allowed us everlasting life is Truth and something for which I would give my earthly life. This, I believe, is not “foolish” — although I suppose I could do much better in being a “fool for Christ.”

    As to logic, however, this much is certain: Eloquence is not to be confused with logic. “Reasoned,” is not to be confused with logical, although there is no question that logical propositions may very well be reasoned and reasonable. “Bluntly proclaiming the obvious” is not logic. And there is absolutely nothing “logical” about Lewis’ “magnificant” paragraph — although I do not dispute that Lewis certainly writes beautifully and, to a point, “persuasively.” I do not doubt and, like you, indeed assert that he “boldly” describes “core beliefs” and truths in a timeless and awe-inspiring manner.

    From the obverse perspective, it is perfectly logical, but utterly non-sensical, to argue:

    1. God is Love.

    2. Love is blind.

    3. Ray Charles is blind.

    Therefore Ray Charles is God.

    This fails as logical nonsense; a sophmoric word game. Ultimately, the not quite so sophmoric, but perhaps solipsistic proposition, cogito ergo sum as a premise in Descartes argument fails; as does any other effort to “logically prove” God.

    God is an incomprehensible mystery and by that measure alone neither He nor our Faith in Him can be explained “logically.” And it is the penultimate human arrogance to suggest otherwise.

    Our Faith — as Orthodox — is not a collection of syllogisms, deductions, inductions, sentential calculations, testimonials, or rhetoric — however beautiful and inspiring syllogisms, deductions and flashes of rhetoric often may be.

    It is called our Faith for a reason.

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      Nick Katich says:

      Alexander:

      Please clear up for me the difference in your mind between logical and rational. I’m not suggesting that there is or is not a difference, but I would like to know what distinction you believe exists.

      As to your Ray Charles syllogism, it is indeed not a proper logical syllogism. You have a major premise (God is Love) that is not all inclusive (or perhaps in mathematical terms better stated as a non-ipso set of all sets). You minor premise is dual, which violates the syllogistic form. Therefore, it is illogic and not logic.

      This would correct it:

      Only God is Love.

      Only Love is blind.

      Only Ray Charles is blind.

      Therefore Ray Charles is God.

      Notwithstanding the dual minor premise, this would be “logical”.

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        Alexander says:

        Nick,

        Thank you for the technical correction.

        In my mind or my belief matters nothing when it comes to logical propositions.

        Given your correction, I surmise that you — and most others frequenting this site — have an excellent grip on this already, and liklely far more precisely than I. Nevertheless, I’ll give it a go.

        The distinction between “rational” and “logical” is relatively straightforward, albeit the subject of centuries long dissections and discussion.

        Broadly, “rationality” is the application of human reason. And “reason” is considered to be a deliberate, thoughtful consideration that reaches some conclusion. There are an abundance of philosphical theories describing “rationality,” some, if not many, of which posit that idealized “rational” analysis must be devoid of emotion, assumptions, or bias. Many theories carry assume and/or assert that a conclusion or decision is “rational” if, without emotion, incorrect or “unprovable” assumption, and bias, it is — or should be — optimal or utilitarian. So many “schools” seek to demonstrate a given set of propositions is “irrational” because of some latent bias, e.g. feminist theory. In considering the role of bias in “reason” and “rationality” you can also get twisted into all sorts of neuroscience and psycho-babble.

        Logic, on the other hand, can be — but is not necessarily — a component of “deliberate consideration.” There are various ways of defining or subdividing logic, but logic is more than a mere “application of human reason.” Its purpose is to demonstrate “validity” or “fallacy.” In its most rigorous sense, logic is mathematical, e.g., sentential calculus or symbolic logic. Through the use of sentential calculus, for example, Russell & Whitehead logically proved that, indeed, 1 + 1 = 2.

        Most Western notions of logic from Aristotle to Wittgenstein consider a proposition to be “true” if it “correctly describes a state of affairs around us,” “false” if it does not. A series of “true” propositions reach a “valid” conclusion. Logical “truth” (validity) and “falsity” (fallacy) are therefore ultimately emprical exercises.

        For centuries, much of Western Christianity tied itself (and perhaps continues to tie itself) into knots over trying to “logically” prove God’s existence, a rough parallel to the way Russell and Whitehead centuries later set out to logically prove 1 + 1 = 2. It has failed at every turn to present a logically “valid” argument. It cannot be done, because God is an incomprehensible mystery. It is a complete waste of time trying to do so. And, if you’re not careful, “logic” can comple you into some really dark corners sitting next to some great “critical thinkers” named Kant, Nietziche, Goethe and the like. For me, that God made Himself incarnate as man saves us from death, and in the mean time, among a million other things, saves us from the dark bowels that “logic” can drive us to. (On the flip side, of course, no one can “logically” disprove God.)

        It is a personal encounter with the living, resurrected Christ that is the source of faith. Not logic. Not critical thinking. Not great some third, 13th, or 30th century exegsis or “apology.” Not a poem or a beautiful picture. Orthodoxy will never be true to someone if his “belief” or “faith” is compelled by logic or critical thinking. As my six year old son said, “it is God who talks to your heart.”

        So, my bias and hackles get up when Orthodox suggest that belief in God is “logical,” or that “critical thinking” compels belief in God. Hence, my opening line in response to Chris, “if ‘rational’ means giving a reason, you certainly give good reason why people could be lead to the Orthodox faith. But, if ‘rational’ means logical, I’m afraid that there will never be a valid logical argument why anyone should be lead to Orthodoxy and live their lives in accordance with its precepts and tradition.”

        I’ve likely been imprecise in something here, so feel free to clean it up.

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          Nick Katich says:

          Alexander:

          I agree with you, given the definitional criterion which you employ. I believe the problem that presents itself in your view, as opposed to Chris’ view, comes in the blurring of the distinction between “logic” and “reason” or “rationality” by many (not the two of you, in my opinion), especially the Scholastics of the West.

          Let me digress for a moment. Philisophically, since the Russell Paradox was postulated, I dismiss “logic” as a viable, rational exercise. For those blog readers that are unfamiliar with the Russell Paradox, and I know that the two of you are familiar with it, let me re-state it in syllogistic terms. Although it is a mathematical formula, it can be re-stated in basic syllogistic terms as follows: “I always lie. I always tell you the truth when I tell you that I always lie. Therefore,……………” It’s easy to fill in the blanks.

          Therefore, putting “logic” aside, can it be “rationally” demonstrated that God exists? I posted earlier, in a previous thread, about the Krebs Citric Acid Cycle, Glycolises, etc. Let’s use a statistical approach which is quite “rational”. Is it more statistically probable that the most perfect, near perpetual motion machine was designed or came into being by design or by pure chance? Most statictians would suggest that the latter is near or at infinite as opposed to the former.

          Therefore, statistically, God must exist.

          God, therefore, can be statistically postulated as opposed to no-God.

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    Andrew says:

    Well said Chris. Reason is a truly special gift from God and something that should be cherished every day. It should also be noted that the gift of reason also compels us to question. Questioning is an essential part of a mature expression of the Orthodox faith. The mature Orthodox Christian questions honestly and by being faithful to his/her questions enters more deeply into the mystery of Christ.

    Any Orthodox leader or institution who discourages questions and seeks only obedience undermines the gift of Orthodox Christianity. I believe Metropolitan Hilarion understands the relationship between faith and reason as well as the relationship between questions and a mature faith very well. His public leadership will do much to shape the lives of the faithful as well as those who bring their questions to the Church with an open heart.

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      Geo Michalopulos says:

      I think we are in danger of losing sight of the wonderment that is unfolding before our eyes. Here we have an Orthodox bishop who is standing for the moral tradition of the Orthodox Church and who is being ought after by Evangelicals who likewise see the collapse of civilization.

      Leaving aside the above (which is nothing short of stupendous), what does this tell us about Orthodoxy? Think of the all the verbiage to and fro we wasted these past 2-3 years talking about the Riverboat Cruise and Copenhage and Canon 28 and Who’s on first? What a sheer waste of time! Instead, the Holy Spirit has not abandoned His flock (even though we have been dangerously close of abandoning Him).

      From a purely administrative/political point of view, I suspect that from now on the stock of the liberal wing of the Orthodox Church and its devotees in the West will become increasingly devalued. Can anybody imagine a bishop from the other Orthodox churches being given such an audience here in America, that is an audience starved for the truth (as opposed to a Soros-funded media circus)?

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    Andrew says:

    I have praised Metropolitan Hilarion here at AOI but I must say this essay published at http://www.firstthings.com gives me a moment of pause. George Weigel is a trusted voice and his questions on the Lviv Sobor and the forcible integration of Ukrainian Catholics are certainly legitimate as are the other concerns he expresses here.

    Rome and Moscow
    Mar 9, 2011
    George Weigel

    Russian Federation president Dmitri Medvedev’s recent visit to the Vatican, which included an audience with Pope Benedict XVI, is being trumpeted in some quarters as further evidence of a dramatic breakthrough in relations between the Holy See and Russia, and between the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church. While I wish that were the case, several recent experiences prompt a certain skepticism.

    In what were called “elections” in December 2010, Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko was returned to office. Virtually all international observers regarded the “elections” as fraudulent and condemned Lukashenko’s post-election arrest and jailing of candidates who had dared oppose him. Yet shortly after the results were announced, Patriarch Kirill I, the leader of Russian Orthodoxy, sent a congratulatory message to Lukashenko, whom he praised for having “honestly served the whole country and its citizens”; “the results of the elections,” he wrote, “show the large amount of trust that the nation has for you.”

    Coddling autocrats is not, unfortunately, unknown in Christian history. What is new, however, is the Moscow patriarchate’s repeated claims that Russian Orthodoxy is the sole repository of the religious identity of the peoples of ancient “’Rus” (Russians, Belarusians, and Ukrainians) and their principal cultural guarantor today. That close identification of ethnicity and Russian Orthodoxy raises serious theological questions, even as it crudely simplifies a complex history involving multiple cultural and religious currents.

    More disturbing still were remarks made in Washington in February by Metropolitan Hilarion, the Moscow patriarchate’s “external affairs” officer—Russian Orthodoxy’s chief ecumenist. Hilarion is an impressive personality in many ways: He is entirely at home in English, he displays a nice sense of humor, and his curriculum vitae includes a large number of publications and musical compositions. Yet when I asked him whether the L’viv Sobor (Council) of 1946—which forcibly reincorporated the Greek Catholic Church of Ukraine into Russian Orthodoxy, turning the Greek Catholics into the world’s largest illegal religious body—was a “theologically legitimate ecclesial act,” Hilarion unhesitatingly responded “Yes.” I then noted that serious historians describe the L’viv Sobor as an act of the Stalinist state, carried out by the NKVD (predecessor to the KGB); Hilarion responded that the “modalities” of history are always complicated. In any event, he continued, it was always legitimate for straying members of the Russian Orthodox flock (as he regarded the Ukrainian Greek Catholics) to return to their true home (i.e., Russian Orthodoxy).

    Throughout the meeting, Hilarion smoothly but unmistakably tried to drive a wedge between Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II (whom two patriarchs of Moscow, both KGB-connected, refused to invite to Russia). He also suggested that Benedict’s calls for a “new evangelization” in Europe, including a recovery of classic Christian morality, could be addressed by joint Catholic-Russian Orthodoxy initiatives. Yet, in what seemed a strange lack of reciprocity, Hilarion also spoke as if the entirety of the former “Soviet space” is the exclusive ecclesial turf of the Russian Orthodox patriarchate of Moscow.

    Some clarifications are thus in order.

    The Catholic-Russian Orthodox dialogue clearly needs theological recalibration. If Russian Orthodoxy’s leadership truly believes that a 1946 ecclesiastical coup conducted by the Stalinist secret police is a “theologically legitimate ecclesial act,” then there are basic questions of the nature of the Church and its relationship to state power that have to be thrashed out between Rome and Moscow. Serious theological issues are also at stake in the Moscow patriarchate’s insistence on a virtual one-to-one correspondence between ethnicity and ecclesiology, a position Rome (which does not believe that genes determine anyone’s ecclesial home) cannot share.

    Second, the relationship between the Russian Orthodox leadership and the efforts of the Medvedev/Putin government to reconstitute the old Stalinist empire, de facto if not de iure, has to be clarified. Patriarch Kirill’s praise of the dictator Lukashenko, like his forays into Ukrainian politics, suggest the unhappy possibility that the Russian Orthodox leadership is functioning as an arm of Russian state power, as it did from 1943 until 1991. If that is not the case, it would be helpful if Patriarch Kirill and Metropolitan Hilarion would make that clear, in word and in deed.

    George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C.

Care to comment?

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