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Russian Orthodox re Baptism, Papacy: Orthodox-Catholic Commission

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  • Teresa A. Polychronis
    A German Common Baptism that is not quite Russian Orthodox ... From: Theodore ...... Sent: Monday, July 02, 2007 12:12 AM Subject: A German Common
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 2, 2007
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      A German "Common Baptism" that is not quite Russian Orthodox
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Theodore ......
      Sent: Monday, July 02, 2007 12:12 AM
      Subject: A German "Common Baptism" that is not quite Russian Orthodox


      The Shepherd, June 2007



      INTERFAX (Vienna, 28/5/07) reports that the ³Moscow Patriarchate intends to assert its own position in the discussion on the primacy of the Pope of Rome in Christendom at the second meeting of the Joint Orthodox-Catholic Theological Commission to take place in October in Ravenna, Italy. OOur principal affirmation is this: primacy in the Church is necessary, also on the universal level, but on the level of the Universal Church it cannot be the primacy of jurisdiction but only the primacy of honour,¹ Bishop Hilarion of Vienna and Austria, Russian Church representative to European organizations, told Interfax.S (Historically, the primacy of the Bishop of Rome in the Christian Church, from our point of view, was that of honour, not jurisdiction. That is to say, the jurisdiction of the Pope of Rome was never applied to all the Churches¹, the bishop stressed.S He says the Moscow Patriarchate is drafting a special document to reflect the official point of view of the Russian Orthodox Church on primacy in the Universal Church in general and the primacies of the Bishops of Rome and Constantinople in particular.² Although he says much that is wise and true, this statement seems to imply that Bishop Hilarion accepts that the Roman Catholic communion is already part of the Universal Church.

      The present structure of representation in the Joint Orthodox-Catholic Theological Commission ³does not reflect the actual distribution of powers and views in the Orthodox world,² Bishop Hilarion of Vienna and Austria also stated. In pursuing the ecumenical activities of the MP he has objected: ³The millions-strong Russian Church is represented in the Commission by only two delegates, while any other Orthodox Church, even if smaller numerically, is also represented by two delegates.²


      A STATEMENT has been issued by the MP Department of External Church Relations (DECR) concerning the signing of a document on mutual recognition of baptisms by several denominations in Germany. On 29th April, 2007, in Magdeburg, a declaration of mutual recognition of baptism by several churches, including the Roman Catholic and several Protestant denominations was signed. Archbishop Longin of Klin (MP), was a signatory of the document. He acted in the name of, and as delegated by, the Commission of the Orthodox Church in Germany (KOKiD), headed by Metropolitan Avgoustinos (?P), and established with the aim of coordinating the activities of various Orthodox jurisdictions in that country. The DECR statement has been issued in response to the scandal that this signing caused, and it tells us that: ³At the same time, the Orthodox participants in the preparation of this declaration adopted a document titled A Note from the Working Group of the Commission of the Orthodox Church in Germany concerning the practice implementation of the declaration on baptism. This document, in part, says that the reception of heterodox Christians into the Orthodox Church by Chrismation Otakes place [...] if the baptism which has already been performed outside the Orthodox Church corresponds to the Orthodox understanding.¹ The document of the Orthodox Working Group also says: ³In the Orthodox Church there cannot be one fixed procedure or form for reception of all baptized Christians, since, aside from local traditions, much depends on individual spiritual needs, and therefore is within the competence of the clergy involved in the reception of those who desire to be received into the Church.¹² The DECR of the Moscow Patriarchate further declares, ³that the signing of this document by Archbishop Longin of Klin, who acted not in the name the Russian Orthodox Church or her Diocese in Germany, but as a representative of the KOKiD, at the request of her presiding officer Metropolitan Avgoustinos, represents only the personal opinion of Vl. Longin.²

      Actually this ³clarification² raises more concerns than it lays to rest. First and foremost it implies that the Orthodox Church recognises the ³baptisms² of those outside the Church; that the Orthodox members at the Magdeburg meeting were somehow able to hold two differing opinions, one which they assented to by their signing of the ecumenical document and one which they confined to their own Note; that an Archbishop may hold differing opinions on matters of the Faith depending on whom he is representing; and that on matters of Church teaching he may hold and express personal opinions which contradict that teaching!


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