April 19, 2014

All-Orthodox Council on the way?

Interfax reports that planning for a council of Orthodox Churches is actively underway. “We expect that preparatory process for the great and holy All-Orthodox Council of the Eastern Church will be revived,” Inter-Orthodox Secretary of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Archpriest Nikolay Balashov said on Friday. He reminded that preparations for the Council started in 1960 and after 30 years “unfortunately, they were suspended, but not through the Russian Church fault.” The Preparatory Commission last met about fifteen years ago. Fr. Nikolay reminded that last autumn at the Istanbul meeting between primates of all Orthodox Churches Patriarch Kirill (then Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad - IF) “actively and largely contributed” in taking decisions to lead preparatory work out of the deadlock. … [Read more...]

Catholic-Orthodox: The Trent Agreed Statement on the Family

The Trent Agreed Statement on the Family of the First European Catholic-Orthodox Forum on the theme: ‘The Family: A Good for Humanity,’ Trent, Italy, on December 10-14, 2008. Preamble By the grace of the Holy Spirit, we, thirty representatives of the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches in Europe, from countries stretching from the Urals to the Atlantic, have gathered together for the First European Catholic-Orthodox Forum. We express our gratitude to all who have worked for the success of this meeting, especially to the Archbishop of Trent who warmly received us and offered hospitality. The meeting has been organised by the Council of European Bishops Conferences (CCEE), in close collaboration with various Orthodox Churches and some of the dicasteries of the Holy See. We have expressed our deep sorrow at the sudden death of His Holiness, Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow and All Russia, who had warmly extended his blessing upon the project of this Forum. What is the … [Read more...]

Hope for the Future!(?)

The Manifesto is blessed

In Sweden, the Interfaith Climate Summit has issued forth with the The Uppsala Interfaith Climate Manifesto, a perfectly ordinary amalgam of religious sentiment and environmental alarmism typical of ecumenical groups. Which is to say that there's precious little political, economic or scientific insight in the broadside from Uppsala. Of course, there's no indication from the summit's participants that the causes and cures proposed for global warming may be controversial, especially in the scientific community. Yet, what sets the Hope for the Future! manifesto apart from total banality, and makes it interesting, is its unmistakably coercive tone about what both developed and developing countries "must" do about climate change. Apparently, the "global village" ethic of environmental activists does not apply when demands are made of the powers that be. The manifesto was signed by Fr. John Chryssavgis, representing the Ecumenical Patriarch, and Fr. Leonid Kishkovsky, director of … [Read more...]

Interview with Bp. Hilarion of Vienna and Austria

Reflections on the American Orthodox experience by foreign leaders are often interesting. Sometimes they are even insightful. That's what we see in the recent interview with Bp. Hilarion of Vienna and Austria conducted by Dr. Peter Bouteneff, Associate Professor of Dogmatic Theology at St. Vladimir's Seminary in New York. Discussion ranged from the American jurisdictional divisions, proper ecclesiology, the failure of ecumenical initiatives, to Bp. Hilarion's musical compositions (The Passion of St. Matthew). Some highlights: Your Grace, as an archpastor and scholar, with experience both within the Moscow Patriarchate and globally, you have reflected on a vast array of topics, many of which are now of key importance to us in the Orthodox Church in America as we prepare to meet in council and elect a new primate. While we in America reflect on the origins of our autocephaly, the recent scandal in our Church, and the challenges we face, how do you see a way forward for us? I … [Read more...]

Where are the Orthodox Dominionists?

A friend sent me an article from the Hellenic Voice titled, “Religious Right must not set agenda for Orthodox Church.” Well, reasonable enough. But the article got so many other things wrong that I was tempted to simply quit reading half way through. The author, Harry Katopodis, seemed not to understand the difference between religious doctrine and political activism (which was one of the main faults of the Religious Right). Amazingly, his article was aimed at those Orthodox brothers and sisters who have been received into the Church from other traditions. You know, converts. Their conversion, the author suggested, has been a Trojan horse that has allowed the Religious Right to stealthily creep into the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. The Katopodis article begins with the assertion that “the Orthodox Churches in America are heading down two different paths over political involvement.” The article is much too long and repetitive to reprint so I’ll touch on just a few points … [Read more...]

Orthodox Christian Patriarchs Celebrate Baptism of Russia

Orthodox Churches have long been involved in ecumenical projects, such as the World Council of Churches, and affirm the Lord's mandate "that they all may be one" (John 17:21). Yet, I can't help thinking at times that the Orthodox Churches might work a little harder at unity in their own house. For that reason, it was encouraging to follow the progress of Greek Orthodox Archbishop Demetrios' recent visit to the Moscow Patriarchate and see Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I side by side with Patriarch Alexy II for the celebration of the baptism of Russia. The Greeks and the Russians have had some contentious moments of late, such as the controversy over who shall have jurisdiction for Orthodox Christians in Estonia. Good background here in an AP story on the tensions between the Ukrainians and Russians: Ukrainian officials are determined to use the events to lobby for autonomy for the local church from Russia, while the dominant Moscow Patriarchate will fight to retain … [Read more...]

A Conversation With Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev

St. Vladimir's Seminary recently held a symposium on the state of ecumenical relations between the different Christian communions throughout the world. In attendance was Bp. Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Vienna, a man highly respected at AOI because of his bold and clear testimony to Christ in Europe (see some of his writings on OrthodoxyToday.org). Fr. Chad Hatfield, Chancellor of St. Vladimir's Seminary, sat down with Bp. Hilarion for a frank discussion on ecumenical relations between Orthodoxy and other Christian communions, as well as tensions between Moscow and Constantinople about the direction some of these discussions are taking. A Conversation With Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, sharpened his focus on bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to America during the conference as well. Listen to him explain how the Orthodox lack in their knowledge of scripture and why a recovery of scripture is sorely needed. Holy Scripture and the Evangelization of … [Read more...]

Bp. Hilarion: Russian Orthodox Must Stay in WCC

Moscow, June 30, Interfax - Withdrawal of the Russian Orthodox Church from the World Council of Churches should weaken positions of Moscow Patriarchate in the inter-Orthodox dialogue, the representative of Russian Church in European international organizations believes. "This withdrawal may only weaken our positions today in defending the Church teaching which we consider traditional, which for many centuries was the basis of relations among the Orthodox Churches, and which is now challenged by the Patriarchate of Constantinople," Bishop Hilarion said Monday to Interfax-Religion. He also mentioned that the last Bishops' Council discussed "the claims of the Patriarchate of Constantinople to the jurisdiction of the whole diaspora" and the Patriarch of Constantinople's seeking to receive the position "which is somewhat equal to that of Pope in the Catholic Church." "Today, the Russian Orthodox Church is the major opponent of Constantinople, therefore, the Patriarchate of … [Read more...]

Orthodox-Catholic dialogue ‘progressing’

In Rome for the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I said that the Orthodox-Catholic dialogue was showing progress despite "considerable difficulties that exist and the well-known problems." The patriarch attended the inauguration of the Pauline Jubilee Year and Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI. Zenit News said Patriarch Bartholomew voiced optimism about the prospect for closer relations: The theological dialogue between our Churches 'in faith, truth and love,' thanks to divine help, goes forward despite the considerable difficulties that exist and the well-known problems. We truly desire and fervently pray that these difficulties will be overcome and that the problems will disappear as soon as possible so that we may reach the desired final goal for the glory of God. We know well that this is your desire too, as we also are certain that Your Holiness will neglect nothing, personally working, together with your illustrious collaborators, … [Read more...]

Orthodox Women in the Ecumenical Movement

An Inter-Orthodox Consultation, under the auspices of the World Council of Churches, held a program titled, "Participation of Orthodox Women in the Ecumenical Movement: Past, Present, Future” at the Volos Academy for Theological Studies, Greece, from June 8-12. The meeting brought together some 45 women from Eastern and Oriental Orthodox Churches in Europe, the Middle East, Asia, Australia and North America. They discussed the participation, ministry and concerns of Orthodox women in the church and in the ecumenical movement. According to the WCC report, participants at the consultation recommended undertaking a full assessment of the current situation and needs of Orthodox women, given the many changes that have taken place over the last decade, as well as the development of a framework for future action. "We see the need to identify, together with our church leadership, the ways and instruments to implement decisions and recommendations of women's consultations in our churches," … [Read more...]

Ecumenicism: The Moral Imperative Based on the Priestly Prayer of Jesus

Holy Father, keep them in thy name, which thou hast given me, that they may be one, even as we are one (John 17:11). In just a few short weeks most of the Eastern Churches (and Western Churches as well) will be reading this passage from St. John’s Gospel during Holy Week. Are we one, are we in unity, are we responding to the Fathers embrace prayed for by His Divine Son? The answer is blatantly: No! Not to respond to God’s Will is being in a state of sin: thus disunity is sinful. Jesus prayed that we be ‘kept in the Fathers name and be one’ but we are free to reject the Father. Why? Because we are created with ‘free will’. Thus we are free to sin. But we are also free to work toward conforming our will to His Will. Brokenness in the world, the evils around us, the disunity among the communities of Christians are due to choices made by us individually and collectively by our Churches, ecclesial communities and religious establishments. There is no doubt that Ecumenism … [Read more...]