July 23, 2014

Patriarch Kirill & Pope Benedict: A Tale of Two Leaders for a new Missionary Age

Pat. Kyrill and Pope Benedict

I've been asked to become an Orthodox columnist on Catholic.org and accepted. Below is my first essay. Regular readers will notice ideas we discussed on the AOI Observer. +++++++++++++++++ Catholic Online (www.catholic.org) NAPLES, FL. (Catholic Online) - Over four decades ago Pope John Paul II said that the restoration of the Russian Orthodox Church was necessary for the cultural restoration of Western Europe. At the time his words seemed audacious. Russia was still under the Communist yoke, the winds in Poland were just starting to blow, and the Berlin wall loomed invincible. Culture watchers dismissed the statement as the wistful longing of a faithful man. Yet John Paul, with his gift of seeing through the clutter of immediate events into the deeper and far-reaching ways of God, knew better. He believed that the fall of Communism would unleash a transformation that could only come from those who suffered. His words are proving true. The Orthodox Church in Russia, … [Read more...]

Metropolitan Hilarion: Christianity is a religion of the people of spirit

Many ask: what does it mean to be a Christian? This is what we read in the 3d century manuscript known as ‘A Letter to Diognetus’ and ascribed to St. Justin the Martyr: ‘there is something extraordinary about their lives. They live in their own countries as though they were only passing through. They play their full role as citizens, but labor under all the disabilities of aliens. Any country can be their homeland, but for them their homeland, wherever it may be, is a foreign country… To speak in general terms, the Christian is to the world what the soul is to the body’. These words speak to us about the self-determination of the early Christian community. In spite of the fact that many centuries have elapsed since this letter was written, its words in fact concern each of us. We really live in our own country, while wearing the same clothes, other people do and speak in the same language as those around us, but we are called to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. … [Read more...]

“Christian Family – a ‘little church’ and a basis of healthy society.”

Final document of the plenary session of the Christian Interconfessional Consultative Committee of the CIS and Baltic countries, Moscow, 4 February 2010 4.02.2010 · Analitics, Inter-Christian relations, New documents Christian Churches of the CIS and Baltic countries, in a plenary session of the Christian Interconfessional Consultative Committee of the CIS and Baltic countries held in Moscow on 4 February 2010, have thoroughly considered the theme “Christian Family – a ‘little church’ and a basis of healthy society” and state their common views on family relations. Our understanding of the role of the family proceeds from the Holy Scriptures as the highest authority in the matters of morality and is based on the centuries-long experience of the church care for the families. Participants in the meeting express their common concern for the devaluation of value of the family and marriage in contemporary society. We are confident that family has been established by God and is … [Read more...]

Russia acquires land near Eiffel Tower, plans Orthodox center

Eiffel Tower

The Russian Orthodox Church is on a roll! Russia has defeated Canada and Saudi Arabia in a tender for a plot of land in downtown Paris and will build a spiritual and cultural center on the banks of the Seine River near the Eiffel Tower. France's Budget Ministry said in a statement on Monday that Russia had offered the highest price for the land, but did not elaborate on the figure. The plot of land on the Branly Quay is currently occupied by the French national meteorological service, Meteo France, which is expected to be relocated in 2011. According to the Russian Newsweek magazine, Canada was seeking for the land for a new embassy, while Saudi Arabia wanted to build a diplomatic office and a mosque, intended only for Saudi citizens. Russia reportedly plans to build an Orthodox church on the plot, and to relocate a divinity school currently located on the outskirts of Paris. The magazine quoted experts as saying an average price of land in the area was about 7,000 … [Read more...]

Russian church leaders defend marriage, speak out on family crisis

Pat. Kirill

Russian Orthodox Church leaders called on Christians on Thursday to be firm in defending traditional marriage and lamented the family crisis in the country. According to some estimates, over half of the marriages in Russia end in divorce. Women in the 140-million-strong country undergo some 1.5 million abortions annually. "We, Christians of different denominations, should profess the inviolability of the evangelic norms on the holy matrimony between man and woman," Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia said in a welcome message to participants of an inter-Christian forum for former Soviet republics held in Moscow. Christians, he said, should "openly testify that deviation from the God-given fundamentals of marriage cannot contribute to forming a healthy individual." Another top church official, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk who heads the Russian Orthodox Church's external relations department, criticized today's morality. "Today the scale of priorities for … [Read more...]

The Tireless Preacher

RussiaProfile.org The Patriarch’s First Year in Office Has Laid The Ground Work For Further Reform Prior to Kirill's enthronement in winter of 2009, many church members were wary of his pro-Western sympathies, reformer’s zeal and forceful character that, the fear was, could have led to a schism in the Russian Church. Now that the first year of his patriarchate has elapsed, these fears can be said to have been ungrounded. When Patriarch Kirill celebrates Divine Liturgy, sound amplifiers make every word he utters audible in every corner of the church – including the Eucharistic prayers that priests usually speak quietly at the altar during the main part of the service. For a long time, Eucharistic prayers said aloud have been a mark of liberalism in the Russian Orthodox Church. In Russia, few priests had the bishops’ authorization to do so, and conservatives regarded the practice as inadmissible. But Patriarch Kirill resorted to high … [Read more...]

Abp. Hilarion elevated to Metropolitan

Met. Hilarion

Archbishop Hilarion, an emerging and clear voice in world Orthodoxy was elevated to Metropolitan in Russia recently. See pictures here. … [Read more...]

Russian Orthodox Church Sets Out To Be ‘First Among Equals’

Pat. Kirill

Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty H/T: St. Andrew House Discussion Forum Is the Russian Orthodox Church set to launch a "new crusade" -- at home and abroad? Father Daniel Sysoyev, a prominent Russian missionary, recently urged the opening of an Orthodox "base" in Kyrgyzstan from which to launch a proselytizing "offensive" across mostly Muslim Central Asia. Speaking at a forum in Moscow on February 17, Sysoyev said the church should open theological faculties in Bishkek universities and "use Kyrgyzstan as a base for all of Central Asia, Afghanistan, Tibet, and China." Central Asia, he said, could prove fertile ground. After all, since 1992, a half-million Central Asians have become Protestant converts. And Catholic missionaries, the priest added, successfully set up a Kyrgyz diocese in just a few years. Bakyt Murzubraimov, chairman of the theology department at Osh State University in Kyrgyzstan, dismisses Sysoyev's … [Read more...]

Catholic Herald: In Russia, the path to unity is defrosting


Roman Catholic reporting about union between Rome and Orthodoxy tends to be over optimistic. The Catholics seem to want union much more than the Orthodox do. A clearer assessment might be that Moscow sees cooperation with Rome as necessary to re-Christianize Europe, to help Europe rediscover its moral and religious moorings. Nevertheless, a significant thaw is occurring. +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Neville Kyrke-Smith has visited Eastern Europe for the past 25 years. Now, he believes the end of the schism with the Orthodox is in sight "The Lefebvrists, the Anglicans... will it be the Orthodox next?" asked one slightly bewildered Catholic priest recently. Pope Benedict XVI is turning out to be ecumenically audacious. For this he has faced criticism, misunderstanding and accusations of insensitivity. But Pope Benedict and Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church seem now to be making progress in preparing the ground to overcome the Great Schism of 1054. When I … [Read more...]

Archbishop Hilarion: The Church has been granted the Primate required by our troubled time

Compare the vision expressed below with recurring missteps like Orphangate, the uncritical embrace of global warming activism, assertions of ethnic supremacy (Hellenism uber alles?), the flattering of politicians, and the like and ask yourself: --Who really gets it? --Who has the better grasp of the crisis in Western culture? --Who really comprehends that any resolution to that crisis is moral and religious? “The Church has been granted the Primate required by our troubled time.” An interview of Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk to “Interfax-Religion” – What changes in the Russian Orthodox Church since 1 February 2010 have been most obvious and impressive? – The election and enthronement of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill have, undoubtedly, been the most important events in the life of the Russian Orthodox Church last year. By the will of the Holy Spirit and through the election by the Local Council, the Church has been granted the Primate required by our troubled time, … [Read more...]

Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk: “The work of the Church is always mission-oriented because mission is a vocation of the Church”

The more I read what is coming out of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), the clearer it becomes that they understand the culture within the Church and outside of it. The ROC will emerge as the world leader of Orthodoxy because it comprehends that the crisis in Western culture, including Russia, is primarily moral and speak to it with clarity. Note this paragraph: Archbishop Hilarion added that there were nominal Orthodox believers in the world who consider themselves Christians by birth or by belonging to a certain ethnic group, but they do not completely fulfill that what their religion prescribes. The archpastor expressed his regret, saying: “It is a common problem of all the religions: people identify themselves with a certain confession, but they do not shape their lives in accordance with its teaching.” He added: “This means there is such a phenomenon as a lack of serious and thoughtful consideration of the fact that they belong to the Christian Church. They even agree to … [Read more...]

Patriarch Bartholomew Will Visit Russia in May

It's no secret that Moscow doesn't take kindly to Pat. Bartholomew's claims of universal authority (see: A Letter To The Ecumenical Patriarch Concerning The Situation Of The Diaspora by Patriarch Alexios written in 2005) so the sentence below “within the canonical order that was installed over centuries of church tradition" (quotes in Russian original) undoubtedly references this difference in ecclesiological understanding. This should be interesting. ++++++++++++++++++++ On 20 May, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew is scheduled to arrive in Russia for an official visit. At a press conference in Moscow on Tuesday, Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev of Volokolamsk, the head of the Department of External Church Relations of the MP, said that Patriarch Bartholomew, in particular, intends to visit Moscow, St Petersburg, Vladimir, and Suzdal. In July 2009, Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias went to Turkey, his first official visit to another Local Orthodox Church as the … [Read more...]