Today Each Church is Facing a Serious Moral Choice to Stay Faithful to Christ or to Evade Its Historical Calling

Sep 20, 2014 by

by Metropolitan Hilarion: Your Eminence, recently the Lutheran Archbishop of Turku, Kari Mäkinen, stated that the Russian Orthodox Church has suspended dialogue with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland because of the differences concerning the situation of sex and gender minorities. Can you comment on this statement? The dialogue between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland began in 1970. For the past period, many theological and other issues were discussed and a number of joint documents were adopted to reveal the views of the two Churches on various theological and social issues. The next round of the dialogue was to discuss issues of Christian anthropology, that is, the teachings on man and his relations with God and the world around him. In recent years, the Protestant community in the West has experienced a serious crisis as many communities have reconsidered some important provisions of the Christian theological and moral teaching. The impact made by liberal secularism on church life has led some Protestant communities in the West to make a decision to establish female priesthood and female episcopate. It has considerably complicated our theological dialogues with them since their aim was to bring Orthodox Churches and Protestant communities closer together, not to divide them. Another step was made by the decision of several Protestant communities to bless same-sex unions. As a result, dialogue with them has become impossible. This practice is directly contrary to the Christian morality and the moral norms on which the gospel’s teaching is based. The rejection of fundamental ethical norms erodes the notions of sin and virtue and deprives people of moral guidelines, making them helpless in face of their own passions. Read here...

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Church of England and Vatican congregate for cricket and charity

Sep 19, 2014 by

By Richard Williams, Guardian: The two cricket teams sat facing each other across the aisle and as the organ played and the congregation waited for choral evensong to begin in Canterbury Cathedral it was not difficult to tell them apart. The players of the Church of England XI had turned up in jeans, an assortment of open-necked shirts, a variety of boy-band haircuts and even one hipsterish beard. The cricketing representatives of the Vatican, by contrast, were arrayed along their pews in black cassocks, each with his hair neatly cut and brushed in a short, conservative style. Comparing the fuzzy informality of the home team with the immaculate uniformity of the visitors, a visiting alien would have taken some persuading that they worshipped the same deity. St Peter’s XI, the first Vatican cricket team to undertake an overseas tour, arrived in Britain just over a week ago. Weather permitting, the climax of their visit was due to take place on Friday night at the St Lawrence Ground in Canterbury, with a Twenty20 showdown between the two faiths. “We’re praying that it doesn’t rain,” the Rev Jez Barnes, the vicar of St Stephen’s, East Twickenham, and the Anglicans’ designated captain until injury struck, had said earlier in the week, after taking note of a pessimistic weather forecast. “I’m not sure prayer works like that,” he added. “But we’ll be praying anyway.” Read here...

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Russian Orthodox spokesman: female bishops in Church of England will harm ecumenical dialogue

Jul 18, 2014 by

STATEMENT BY COMMUNICATION SERVICE OF THE MOSCOW PATRIARCHATE’S DEPARTMENT FOR EXTERNAL CHURCH RELATIONS REGARDING THE DECISION OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND TO ALLOW WOMEN TO SERVE AS BISHOPS At the session that took place on the 14th of July 2014, the General Synod of the Church of England made a decision allowing women to serve as bishops. The Communication Service of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations is authorized to make the following statement in this regard: The Russian Orthodox Church has been alarmed and disappointed to learn about the decision of the Church of England to admit women to the episcopate, since the centuries-old relationships between our two Churches had shown possibilities for the Orthodox to recognize the existence of apostolic succession in Anglicanism. As far back as the 19th century, the Anglicans, members of the Eastern Church Association, sought “mutual recognition” of orders between the Orthodox and the Anglican Churches and believed that “both Churches preserved the apostolic continuity and true faith in the Saviour and should accept each other in the full communion of prayers and sacraments.” The decision to ordain women, which the Church of England took in 1992, damaged the relationships between our Churches, and the introduction of female bishops has eliminated even a theoretical possibility for the Orthodox to recognize the existence of apostolic succession in the Anglican hierarchy. Such practice contradicts the centuries-old church tradition going back to the early Christian community. In the Christian tradition, bishops have always been regarded as direct spiritual successors of the apostles, from whom they received special grace to guide the people of God and special responsibility to protect the purity of faith, to be symbols and guarantors of the unity of the Church. The consecration of women bishops runs counter to the mode of life of the Saviour Himself and the holy apostles, as well as to the practice of the Early Church. In our opinion, it was not a theological necessity or issues of church practice that determined the decision of the General Synod of the Church of England, but an effort to comply with the secular idea of gender equality in all spheres of life and the increasing role of women in the British society. The secularization of Christianity will alienate many faithful who, living in the modern unstable world, try to find spiritual support in the unshakable gospel’s and apostolic traditions established by Eternal and Immutable God. Read here...

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Archbishop writes to ecumenical partners about women bishops

Jul 18, 2014 by

Archbishop Justin has written to ecumenical partners about the General Synod’s decision to allow women to become bishops, emphasising that churches “need each other”. The text of the letter, which is being posted to partner churches, is printed below: This comes to you with warm Christian greetings and the wish to communicate personally to you the decision of the General Synod of the Church of England to admit women to the episcopate. This is an occasion of deep rejoicing for many, especially for many of the women clergy in the Church of England. They feel that this decision affirms their place and ministry in the life of the Church. For others in the Church of England, the decision may be a source of disappointment and concern. As the Synod moved towards the decision many were struck by the spirit of the debate: frankness, passion and, I am glad to say, a good deal of Christian charity.  It all indicated an intention and sincere assurance to hold all of us together in one Church. There appeared a determination that the genuinely held differences on the issue of the ordination of women to the episcopate should not become a dividing factor in the Church of England, and there was care and expressions of love for those troubled by the outcome. The Bishops have sought to build trust across the Church. The five principles outlined by them in their declaration form part of the package approved. Principles 3 and 4 are ecumenically relevant. I give below these principles: Read...

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Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury must not be afraid to argue

Apr 4, 2013 by

by Jonathan Wright, Catholic Herald The ecumenical process will be enlivened by the Pontiff and archbishop having some spirited rows There can be little doubt that the new Pope and the new Archbishop of Canterbury will get along very well. The two men share an admirable concern for the poor and the disenfranchised. They have similar styles when it comes to meet-and-greets and, perhaps most significantly, there is considerable harmony when it comes to the taproots of their spirituality. Welby, the Anglican who has sought spiritual advice from Catholics, is also a fan of Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Pope’s order. Francis, the Catholic who knows the value of grassroots initiatives, will have been impressed by Welby’s pre-enthronement “prayer pilgrimage”. The similarities can be exaggerated, of course. That puzzling word “evangelical” has been mentioned a lot in recent weeks, but there is room for caution. An evangelical Catholic (and we might as well go by George Weigel’s detailed, but still rather hazy definition) is not the same as a Protestant Evangelical, and I can’t imagine that Francis would be terribly impressed by everything that transpires at Holy Trinity Brompton. Still, there is a lot of common ground, and this is marvellous. There was a time when popes and Archbishops of Canterbury spat anathemas at each other and traded accusations of heresy. It is good that we are past all that: sending congratulatory messages is much healthier for the Christian commonwealth than burning martyrs at the stake or indulging in continent-blighting religious wars. This doesn’t mean, however, that there should be no tension between Rome and Canterbury. It should always be a respectful but slightly awkward relationship, and there must always be an opportunity to articulate profound differences of opinion. This serves to make both communions stronger and lends moments of genuine agreement much greater significance. With some audacity I urge the Pope and the archbishop to bear this in mind whenever they share a pot of tea. Read...

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Orthodox fear for ecumenical future

Nov 29, 2012 by

by George Conger, CEN WOMEN BISHOPS, gay marriage and other innovations of doctrine and discipline will end meaningful Anglican-Orthodox relations, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations (DECR) has warned. At a 26 November meeting in Moscow, Ambassador Tim Barrow and second secretary James Ford met with leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church. According to the official press statement, “Metropolitan Hilarion greeted the Ambassador and shared his reminiscences of his student years in Oxford and his impressions of the recent visit to London where he attended celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Sourozh diocese.” They also discussed the situation of Christians in the Middle East and North Africa, the role the Russian Orthodox and Polish Catholic Churches had played in reconciling the “peoples of Russia and Poland” and the state of “Orthodox-Anglican relations at present” – which the Moscow Patriarchate said were at a nadir. On 13 November, Hilarion wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury designate, Bishop Justin Welby, offering his greetings upon the Bishop of Durham’s appointment as 105th Archbishop of Canterbury. However, Hilarion said meaningful Orthodox-Anglican ecumenical dialogue had all but died, and it was the Anglicans who have killed it. In a carefully worded letter, Hilarion stated Moscow expected Bishop Welby to discipline the liberal wing of the Anglican Communion. Bishop Welby had been “entrusted with the spiritual guidance of the entire Anglican Communion, a unique union of like-minded people, which, however diverse the forms of its existence in the world may be, needs one ‘steward of God’ the guardian of the faith and witness to the Truth. “Regrettably, the late 20th century and the beginning of the third millennium have brought tangible difficulties in relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Churches of the Anglican Communion,” Hilarion said. “The introduction of female priesthood and now episcopate, the blessing of same-sex ‘unions’ and ‘marriages’, the ordination of homosexuals as pastors and bishops – all these innovations are seen by the Orthodox as deviations from the tradition of the Early Church, which increasingly estrange Anglicanism from the Orthodox Church and contribute to a further division of Christendom as a whole,” he...

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