+Hilarion Alfeyev Blasts Anglicans for Renouncing the Faith
VILLANOVA, PA: Metropolitan Hilarion Blasts Anglicans for Renouncing the
Orthodox and Anglican Churches are on different sides of the
abyss, says Russian Orthodox leader
By David W. Virtue
January 12, 2013
The future of ecumenism is in great peril with the gap widening
between orthodox and progressives, says Metropolitan Hilarion of the Russian
Orthodox Church a noted theologian and church historian.
an audience at Villanova University, a Catholic institution on Philadelphia's
historic mainline and one of the oldest in the US, Hilarion said that when the
holy fathers of the first millennium abided in unity and while it was subjected
to many serious trials, it was the foundation upon which dialogue between
Christians was successful and fruitful. "Fidelity to the Christian tradition is
the proper means for the restoration of unity among Christ's
The orthodox leader blasted parts of the Anglican Communion
for abandoning the faith and said renunciation of the truth by some Protestant
denominations makes it difficult for the Orthodox Church to continue
co-operation with them.
"I regret this, but dialogues with Protestants
and Anglicans which we have had for decades are now under threat because of
processes taking place in the Protestant communities of the West and North. I
mean the continuing liberalization in the field of theology, ecclesiology and
moral teaching. Certain denominations have legitimized the blessing of same-sex
unions and the ordination of people openly declaring their non-traditional
Hilarion said he was obliged to speak about this
because he wanted to preserve the good that was being achieved during the years
of dialogue between Orthodox, on the one hand, and Protestants and Anglicans, on
the other. "In defending the two-thousand-year-old tradition of the Church, we
remain true to this dialogue, yet at the same time we see that Protestants and
Anglicans are growing away from us by accepting innovations which we find
"I am speaking of this in the walls of a Catholic
university because I am afraid to criticize Anglicans and Protestants to their
faces. Every time the opportunity arises, I speak openly of our concern in
direct dialogue with our brothers from the Anglican and Protestant communities.
In 2010 at a festive dinner at the Nicaea Club in London in the presence of the
Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams I stated the sad fact that the Orthodox
and Anglican Churches are to be found on different sides of the abyss which
separate Christians of a traditional direction and Christians adhering to
liberal teachings. Recently I spoke of the same things at the old Episcopalian
seminary at Nashotah House, a contemporary of your University."
Metropolitan added that dialogue with Protestants and Anglicans has reached a
dead end, but dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church has a future because, like
the Orthodox Church, the Catholic Church does not think of itself as being
outside of Tradition and strives to teach and live in accordance with the
tradition of the apostles and holy fathers.
"In my view, the significant
improvement and strengthening of relations between our Churches that can be seen
in recent years is connected to an awareness that we are united by a common
heritage, thanks to which both Orthodox and Catholics can and must together bear
witness to the world of the eternal values of the Gospel.
and Catholics encounter the same challenges which modern times lay down to the
traditional way of life. In this instance we are dealing not with theological
problems but with the present and future of humanity. It is in this sphere that
Orthodox and Catholics can interact without compromising their ecclesiastical
identity. In other words, while not yet being the one Church, being separated by
various theological and ecclesiological problems, we can find ways of
interacting which would allow us to respond jointly to the challenges of the
"Together we can help people realize what the traditional
Christian values are - the family, the worth of human life from conception to
death, the upbringing of children, the integrity and indissolubility of
marriage. All of these concepts in the modern secular world are subjected to a
Hilarion said that in Western society today, the
traditional family way of life has, in effect, been destroyed. As a result,
there has been a gradual decline in the populations of Western nations. "This is
a very simple and real indication of the spiritual health or spiritual disease
of a particular nation. If the population of a country is increasing this means
that there are in the nation healthy forces which allow this to happen; if the
population decreases, this is a sign of disease." The disease in society is an
absence of the traditional notion of the family, he said.
"At the basis
of this worldview there lies the destruction of the traditional family way of
life. If we speak of Christian communities, the traditional way of life of the
family is preached only by the Orthodox and Catholic Churches. At the official
level it is the Orthodox and Catholic Churches which defend the integrity of
marriage, believe abortion to be a sin and call for an end to it, and believe
that euthanasia is unacceptable."
Hilarion continued, "The 'Foundations
of the Social Concept of the Russian Orthodox Church' with the Catechism of the
Catholic Church which outlines the official teaching of the Catholic Church on
these problems, then everywhere you will see that their positions are similar.
This means that we can combine our endeavors in order to jointly protect
traditional values such as the family, giving birth, how children are brought up
and the integrity of marriage. This is the field where we can and must today
interact with Catholics.
"In this regard, I am convinced that
co-operation of all Christian confessions, and first of all between the Orthodox
and Catholic Churches, is greatly needed for the protection of human life and
its inalienable dignity as well as the family. Therefore we who are united by
faith in Christ and a two-thousand-year-old Christian tradition have to bring
with renewed strength the good news to the world of the family and marriage as
institutions created by God.
"In accepting the challenge of the real
world, the Christian family is to be as before the hope and pledge of a
Christian civilization. It is essential to protect and support a cultural
tradition which is favorable to the family, the indissolubility of marriage and
the need for marital fidelity by taking an active part in the creation of
legislation that favors the family and its natural foundation and by imparting
to society the ideals of the majesty and perfection of the family
The Orthodox leader said that protecting of Christians from
discrimination is another area of cooperation between the Orthodox and
"Unfortunately, in the countries of the so called Arab Spring,
as well as in a number of other countries of the Middle East, Africa, Asia and
Oceania, Christians are subjected to discrimination, persecution and repression.
Media Ignores Religious Persecution
The media ignores the
problem of religious persecution. "In planning military intervention in a
particular country of the Arab world or in preparing the overthrow of the
existing regime in a particular country with the help of outside forces, Western
strategists completely fail to take into account the fact that the main victims
are often local Christians."
Hilarion cited several examples. "In Iraq
only one tenth of a million-and-a-half Christians that lived there ten years ago
have survived. In Egypt we are witnessing a mass exodus of Christians. There are
practically no Christians left in Libya. Ninety five percent of Christians have
abandoned Homs in Syria. We, Orthodox and Catholics, must raise our voices
jointly in defense of Christians subjected to persecution and repression in
these countries, as well as in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Indonesia, the
Philippines, Nigeria and in a number of other countries as well.
countries of Europe have traditionally defended the interests of Christians in
the Middle East and in Eastern Asia. In the present circumstances we hope that
the resolution adopted by the European Parliament on January 2011 on the
position of Christians in the context of religious freedom, as well as the
declaration of the Committee of Foreign Ministers of the European Union on 22
February, will have practical consequences. They were a result of active
participation by the Christian Churches in this direction. We hope that the USA
will join us in the defense of Christians.
"Today Christians are
subjected to harassment not only in those countries where they comprise a
minority but often in those countries with ancient and deep-rooted Christian
traditions. Certain European countries are trying to limit the manifestation of
Christian faith in public life by claiming that they are thereby observing the
rights of adherents of other religions and atheists. This situation demands that
Orthodox and Catholic show solidarity in their actions in protecting the
Christian identity of Europe and America.
"The Christian communities of
Syria and other Middle Eastern countries are crying out for help at a time when
the Western media ignore their pleas for aid. Politicians too are closing their
eyes to this unprecedented wave of persecution. We, the Orthodox and Catholics
from around the world, have to raise our voice in defense of Christians and the
Christian traditions of the Middle East. It is our duty to appeal constantly to
political leaders, international organizations and the media by reminding them
of this humanitarian tragedy unfolding before our eyes."
observed that it is essential for Orthodox and Catholics today to perceive each
other not as rivals but as allies in the cause of the defense of Christians'
rights. "We must develop interaction outside of the success or otherwise of
theological dialogue, independent even of how relations between the Orthodox and
Catholics take shape in concrete regions around the world. We must build this
interaction from a common strategic task since we are dealing with the future of
humanity. It is upon our joint endeavors that the future of Christianity in the
third millennium will primarily depend."
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