26 March 2011

Russian Orthodox Church: Yes to Cooperation, No to Compromise

From a statement of Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokalamsk published in Russia Today (h/tAd Orientem):

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.”


I actually can respect the fact the the Russian Orthodox Church wishes not to compromise on dogmatic differences.  They're still very wrong (see * below), but I can respect that he is promoting the need for us to focus on the threats of secularism and Islam.

He can get away with saying that because in the past few decades, for the most part, the Church hasn't always been towing the hardline in public support of its dogmas.  The head of the Russian Orthodox ends up doing a PR spin that makes us look like patsies.

Side bar on Dogmatic Differences:
The Western Catholic Church can never compromise anyway, on the three main dogmatic differences.  It is ridiculous to say, for instance, that Jesus's Incarnation would somehow be limited by the Blessed Mother's Immaculate Conception, any more than he'd be limited if the Blessed Virgin was purified at the conception of Jesus.  It makes no sense that the blessed womb of the Virgin Mother of God would be less sacred and pure than the pure soil which made the first man.   They say the Immaculate Conception is not biblical, while it's reasonable, and yet their concept is not biblical.

Purgatory is biblical, it's just not used as a word.  Why do people expect to say exact words for everything from different cultures?  It doesn't always happen in modern cultures, why do they suppose it has to be so with cultures thousands of years apart?

Likewise, the filioque is also biblical.  Jesus says he comes to us through the Father, and that he  sends the Paraclete -- the expression of the love of God the Father and God the Son.