Met. Hilarion: Patriarch’s meeting with Pope getting nearer

Source: Orthodox Church Media Network

November 26, 2010

Metropolitan Hilarion

Moscow, November 26, Interfax – The meeting between the Moscow Patriarch and the Pope is getting nearer each day, the Russian Orthodox Church said.

“Each day brings us closer to this meeting between the Pope and Patriarch,” head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, told journalists in Moscow.

“Right now we are not prepared to make known the date, nor are we engaged in any concrete preparations for the meeting, but we are certainly getting closer to it. It is a calendar and astronomical fact,” he said.

The work carried out by the Russian Church with the Catholic Church is aimed “improving the general climate and achieving a higher level of mutual understanding,” he added.


  1. In the ‘long game’ among those who believe having ‘a theory of primacy’ (generally presupposing some ONE, somewhere, having special authority is required): the idea of moving ‘the opposition’s base’ from a place that has historical legitimacy perhaps in excess of one’s own — to a new one that has possibly temporal predominance permanently removes ‘a threat’.

    In the ‘longer game’, it’s best not to play games where winning is a loss.

    Still, if the Catholic structure led by the Vatican would change to allowing married men also to be priests so many would be better off.

    • Harry: Do you believe, or am I misreading something, that someone should have special authority? If I misread, forgive. If I read correctly, engage.

      • Nick, The Vatican folk have long ‘critcized in their special way’ the Orthodox for ‘lacking a theory of primacy’. It’s one of those Vatican word game things where if you engage the subject as stated the presuppositions are already in place forcing the conclusion that having a single world wide vicar on Earth is a very good idea, and why, shazaam, here he is. In a much longer chain adding the ‘filioque’ to the Creed supports the same idea, skipping pages of theological superstructure that gets that done.

        Anyhow the Orthodox and the Protestant world seem to enjoy a dynamism for all these years needing a ‘theory of primacy’ as much as fish need car insurance.

        Rome has a fantastic generational authority problem generated by its scandal of long-term coverup of that segment of homosexual misdoing overwhelmingly involving boys younger than the legal age of consent. Everyone with two eyes to see knows only that fraction of misdoing the public is given to know happened because of the activity of the civil authority and have serious basis to suppose it continued into later years unrevealed given the cover-up culture in place.

        The only way the Vatican is going to gain and retain is to restore the married priesthood. Our Orthodox position, being smaller and under threat and oppression for so many years is to restore balance in the synods lost over the years– meaning making bishops of senior priests all feel certain would be bishops if only their wife would not have neglected to die young as happened so often before modern medicine.

  2. The benefits of the RCC trying to accommodate what they think Orthodox want can be seen already in the greater acceptance of iconography and redefining doctrine into Orthodox friendly language.

    • Andrew:

      redefining doctrine into Orthodox friendly language.

      How so?

      • For example, the RCs have been starting to distance the medieval language on Purgatory of a “place” of “fire” to punish us, and are speaking more of an inward purgation in God’s burning love to accept deification with God.

        “[Purgatory] is the inwardly necessary process of transformation in which a person becomes capable of Christ, capable of God and thus capable of unity with the whole communion of saints.”

        “Encounter with the Lord is this transformation.”…

        –Joseph Ratzinger, Eschatology: Death and Eternal Life, p. 230-231

        • Andrew: I don’t know if Ratzinger was trying to window dress the heretical notion of Purgatory or not but his anthropological assumptions still hurt my non-Aristotelean ears. “See by experience that the soul only exists completely in the body” — St Ephraim the Syrian.

          • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

            A lot of the recent shift in Catholic theology (Purgatory, Immaculate Conception, etc.) has to do with the decline of the prominence of Augustinian anthropology (bearing the guilt of Adam’s sin, etc.) in the last century. It gets a bit dicey because the doctrine remains, but the rationale for its existence changes.

  3. Guys: Don’t read too much ecclesiology into this. This is a political hardball play for a change in the direction and sense of Europe. Moscow and Rome are as far apart as they have ever been theologically and ecclesiologically. So what. This is a prelude to a EU Manhattan Declaration. Nothing more and nothing less. But, culturally and politically speaking, it is a lot.

  4. Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

    Exactly right Nick.

  5. Nick, I’m not so sure that the concept of Purgatory is necessarily “heretical” as you state. In my reading of the Council of Ferraro-Florence period (not the Council itself), it seems that several Orthodox theologians had already accepted this intermediate state as a theololegoumenon. Indeed, the Toll-House theology so prominent in ultra-Orthodox circles has been called Purgatory in Orthodox clothing by its many detractors.

    Having said that, I would see nothing wrong –and everthing right–with a Europeanist Manhhattan Declaration.

    • A European Manhattan Declaration is the only thing that is going to stop Eurabia in its tracks (secularism isn’t going to do the job).

      • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

        It’s deeper than that. Both Pope Benedict and Pat. Kyrill are looking for a restoration of European culture, a return to the Christian foundations. Yes, it is the only thing that will stop an Islamic conquest. Secularism is just a layover from Christendom to Eurabia although this trip takes a few centuries instead of hours.

        • The one thing the RCC could do now that would make the most difference in the least time is to restore married priesthood. If they were serious about the agenda you mention that is. As it is, the whole ‘avoiding Eurabia’ thing seems more along the lines of something to talk about so as to avoid having to deal directly about ‘the importance having a theory of primacy’.

          That, and in the long game wiping out the threat the historical roots the EP has that the Vatican finds worrisome.

    • George: In my view (and I think as well of Mark of Ephesus’ and Palamas’ and Ephriam’s and many others’), it is heretical. Sure, there were some about the time of Florence who may have agreed with the Roman view. But they also agreed to most other things the Romans put before them so they could gain protection from the Turks. Nyssa is often quoted by the Romans as supporting their position. What many Fathers said in reply was something like, “If that was his position, it merely shows he was a mortal man”, meaning that just because he is an Orthodox theologian doesn’t mean he is right.

      Also, wasn’t it St. John of Damscus who said “In Hades there is no repentance”?

    • Dear George:

      Can you name us on how many ecumenical councils/synods there are in existence? Pertaining to the Orthodox Christian Church.

      It’s very important, because then I will give you a historical lesson on the Ferraro-Florence council.

    • Scott Pennington :


      Just for my two cents: There is mention in the Fathers of a “cleansing fire”. It is not so widespread as to merit the Church holding the existence of “cleansing fire” as a doctrine, however. Also, this “cleansing fire” is seen as a purification, not a punishment. So, believing in a “cleansing fire”, I think, is a valid theologoumenon, but assent to it as doctrine cannot be demanded of anyone.

      What makes the Roman doctrine of purgatory different than the Orthodox theologoumenon of “cleansing fire” is that purgatory is a place where a kind of punishment is alloted for venal sins, it is tied up with the idea of indulgences (which are not Orthodox at all) and the Roman church demands acceptance of the doctrine of purgatory as part of its “deposit of faith”. To add a non-catholic doctrine to the faith and demand assent to it from all the faithful is a form of heresy.

  6. Well it goes to show that secularism is indeed a problem, especially in Europe. And as some Fathers have stated, the biggest promoters of the secularist agenda may in fact be Christian sects who have adopted many of the secularists’ precepts. I found this one piece that has a represenative of the Russian Orthodox Church being denied access to the EU Parliament hearings on religious freedom in his own country of Russia:

    I really, really disklike the EU.

    • Chris: The Serbs hate the EU — but ironically are desparately trying to join it. Go figure. EU = Everything Unseemly!

      • Dear Nick

        Why shouldn’t the Serbs hate the E.U. ? I’m just wondering if you have any idea. Surely don’t bother answering me in regards to the War of Bill Clinton in the 90’s. We’ve heard all that Jazz.

        As a theologian and historian I have yet to see any amends made towards the Serbian Christian nation. As a matter of fact the Orthodox nations of the Balkans. Starting with Greece.

  7. As a Orthodox Christian, I would like to know who gave this Archbishop the authority to make dialogue with the Vatican. Are we still trying to follow the treaties of the council of Florence?

    Let’s all ponder on this thought. Because, St. Mark of Ephesus and St. Gregorios Palamas surely made a mistake, haven’t they?

    Oh… St. Anthony the Great, St. Athanasios the Great, St. Spyridon, St. Basil, St. John Chrisostomos, St. John of Damascus, just to mention a few.

    Did they all make mistakes, on the conclusions of HERESY?

    • Michael Bauman :

      “Ecumenical dialog” is always motivated by the political realities of this world rather than ecclesiology or doctrine or salvation don’t you think?

      The talks between the ROC and the RCC are just that: politically motivated.

      The danger of course is that we become willing to throw away our birthright for a mess of pottage.

      • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

        I’m not so sure this is true. It is motivated more by cultural realities, particularly the decline of Christianity in Europe. My read is that the concern is not to merge two Churches here, but to work together as co-belligerents against the cultural onslaught of secularism.

        • Michael Bauman :

          . . .not wanting to merge the Churches? The merging is how the dialog is often presented by apologists, particularly the RCC ones. Perhaps that is just politics too. Though, has Rome ever separated cooperation from ascenting to their dogmas? The fact is the apologia is running in the direction of minimizing doctrinal differnces to make cultural cooperation easier.

          In any case, nothing happened or was likely to happen until there was the mutual recognition of the political barbarian at the gate. I can’t help reaching the conclusion that absent the barbarian, a creature of our mutual failure, there would have been any movement at all.

          It was a much more ‘Christianized’ Europe that laid the groundwork for the rise of the modern jihadists by our ‘realpolitik’, Macivellian politics of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

          There is still little to address the theological challenge of Islam, just the political one. Unfortunately, we may already be so far behind the demographic curve that any political strategy is doomed to fail. To really rebuild a Christian culture requires an agreement on all the ecclesial matters that separate us AND a faith inspired willingness to be marytrs.

          Anything else is poltics. Necessary perhaps but not sufficient.

        • thanos loukas :

          You are absolutely correct when you say “as co-belligerents”. These destroyers of the sanctity of Family, and marriage have one thing in mind. Believe me! I saw as a new graduate of Theology from Greece the coming of the unslaught to the santuary of Marriage in Brussels, in the early ninety’s with the WCC, and the affects it created are happening at this moment.

          yours in Christ Thanos.

      • Here is a portion of an interview that Met. Hilarion recently gave on the subject:

        We hear sometimes the voices of the so-called ‘zealots of the purity of Orthodoxy’, whose favourite theme is criticism of ‘ecumenism’ based on conjecture. What does inter-Christian cooperation consist in today?

        “The Supreme Authority of the Russian Orthodox Church has repeatedly explained what is understood as inter-Christian cooperation, what aims this cooperation pursues, what results it has brought and can bring to our Church in the future. I believe there is no sense in repeating all that has been said about it, for instance, in the Russian Orthodox Basic Principles of Attitude to Non-Orthodoxy, an official document of the 2000 Bishops’ Council.

        “I would like to mention a different thing. Today, millions of the faithful of the Russian Orthodox Church including Russians, Ukrainians, Byelorussians, Moldovans, have gone to live outside their historical Motherland. It is a sad development in many ways as it involves assimilation, brain drain, etc. But it is a reality existing regardless of its emotional assessment. One can grieve over it as much as one wants but the Church is obliged to help her children to remain Orthodox in an alien milieu.

        “I wonder whether anyone of the ‘zealots’ has ever been concerned for the problems of pastoral care of the Russia diaspora? Do the critics of our cooperation with the Catholic Church know who actually provides our compatriots abroad with facilities necessary for services, Sunday schools and for creating an Orthodox environment for fellowship? Many newly-established Orthodox communities abroad use church buildings which have been provided by the non-Orthodox, in the first place, Catholics. When Catholics give the Orthodox an opportunity to pray in the churches which belong to them and do it often gratis, what does it show?

        “And how many of former Catholics and Protestants have become Orthodox Christians and members of our communities abroad, among other things, as a result of mixed marriages? Do the authors who claim to be the voice of ‘conservative church public’ know how difficult it is in Western Europe, for instance, to obtain permission for building a church and to negotiate its design with local authorities? And what assistance do Catholic parishes and sometimes even Protestant communities give to our new parishes? And how many of our compatriots who have found themselves in the West in a situation of illegal migrants have managed to obtain the necessary papers and jobs with the help of Catholic and Protestant charities on the request of Russian Orthodox parishes?”

        – What tasks does our Church face today in the dialogue with Christian Churches in Europe, with other religious communities and socio-political organizations?

        “At present, Western Europe is turning into a citadel of aggressive secularism. Our participation in inter-Christian organizations is aimed at fulfilling the concrete practical task to oppose further secularization and to protect by all legitimate means the interest and rights of our flock.

        “The same can be said about the entrance of Russia and a number of other countries in the post-Soviet space in ‘the common European house’. Whether we want it or not, the process is underway, and we cannot pretend we do not see it. Pay attention, active efforts have made recently to adjust our legislation to the European one, in which there are its own advantages and disadvantage. If the Church does not participate in the public discussion on this matter the legislation may prove to acquire more disadvantages than advantages. And the experience of Christian churches in Europe can render us a considerable assistance in this concern.”

        • Fr. Johannes Jacobse :

          Nick, every time read things like this I am impressed with the acuity of the Russian Church concerning the concrete threat of secularism to Church and culture. Not even we Americans, who have virtually unlimited opportunity to contribute in these same ways rise up to their level of awareness and, dare I say it, responsible activism.

          • Fr. Hans: Having lived in the catacombs for seventy years, the Russian Church understands better than anyone today how secularism is pregnant with militant atheism. Indeed, we are slowly but surely seeing that embryo develop in our very midst. It is too often said: “Let us each mind to our own business. So what if secularism is the norm in our society. Our religious community can coexist within it”. By a not too obtuse analogy, friends used to laugh at me when I said that the US could evolve into a dictatorship, not unlike the Third Reich, notwithstanding our Constitution and “democratic culture”. For the last two years we indeed did see flirtations by some to embark on the slippery slope of dangerously invasive policies. As Picard (Locutus) used to think, “Resistence is never futile. It is essential”. The fact that the Russian government is on board with the Church in this regard goes a long way to explain the media’s and Progressives’ hatred exhibited by them against the Russia of today.

  8. thanos loukas :

    To Mr. Nick Katich:

    We have seen this ploy again…and again…and again. Regarding, ROCA, ROC, Aoi, Scoba, Oac, NBA, MLB, NFC, NFL. PGA.
    As a Orthodox Christian whose very experienced in this little Catholic and Protestant cooperation, I do have to ask…

    1 When it comes to facilities for the Orthodox to worship in other countries where the Catholics already preside, i.e. Sicily. What are the efforts that the Vatican has made sure happens?
    Answer: Till this day…The Greeks living in Saracuse have yet had any asssistance of obtaining a Greek Orthodox Priest to provide them w/any service! And, if they are able to obtain someone he is immediately DEPORTED! Or there’s some technical oversite on their papers etc…Thank you Vatican city.

    Poland: same thing! South America : same thing. Oh by the way don’t forget that in the early 80’s in Mexico the Archbishop was assassinated by A CATHOLIC! See, Paul Ballaster-Convolier 1984.
    Not to mention a few more countries.

    All that is being said and done is fine to the Naïve. The WCC specifically states that the Orthodox have no say what so ever when it comes to a vote concerning Church doctrine. I wonder if these church leaders knew what they were getting themselves into?

  9. On a related note, an Vatican traditionalist Austrian MP deleivered an interesting message to the Turkish ambassador from the floor of parliament.

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