Bishop Margot Kässmann (1958- ). Her election as the chairman of the EKD shall provoke a cessation of relations with the MP.
The MP may sever relations with the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), a major Protestant church of Western Europe, because it elected a woman as chairman of the EKD Council. Orthodox clergy say this runs counter to evangelical principles. Analysts fear this could provoke a significant inter-faith conflict. On 28 October, a meeting of the EKD Council elected Bishop Margot Kässmann as its chairman. She became the first woman to lead the Evangelical Church in Germany. The EKD unites some 24 million Protestants in more than 20 Lutheran and Reformed churches. The 51-year-old bishop of Hanover is divorced and has four daughters. “We plan to celebrate 50 years of dialogue with the German Lutheran Church in late November and early December”, Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev of Volokolamsk and head of the MP Department of External Church Relations, said on Wednesday. “The celebrations will also mark the end of that dialogue”.
The Orthodox Church does not recognise female clergy. “A female bishop is a contradiction of evangelical principles”, said Georgy Zavershinsky, the Press Secretary of the MP DECR. “Therefore, there can be no church relations between us. We will most likely have to deal with their church as we would with a public organisation”. Russian Lutherans endorse the MP’s line of reasoning. Alexander Prilutsky, chief secretary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ingria (Russia), said female bishops were evidence of “a crisis in Western society”. “Our relations with Western Protestants have recently become more complicated because of their liberal theological practises”, said Bishop Konstantin Bendas, director for secular affairs at the Russian Associated Union of Christians of Evangelical Faith. “Unfortunately, the West is departing from evangelical principles. For example, [the Lutherans in] Sweden deviated the most by electing a lesbian bishop”. If inter-faith dialogue stops, “this could lead to severance of diplomatic relations between German Christians and the MP”, said Roman Lunkin, director of the Institute of Religion and Law and a senior researcher at the Russian Academy of Science’s Institute of Europe. “This could provoke the largest inter-Christian conflict in recent years”.
12 November 2009
As quoted in RIA-Novosti
This has relevance for the OCA’s recent “covenant” with Nashotah House. Nashotah House belongs to the TEC. A female bishop heads the TEC. In the words of the MP spokesman, “A female bishop is a contradiction of evangelical principles. Therefore, there can be no church relations between us. We will most likely have to deal with their church as we would with a public organisation”. The OCA has to rip up its “covenant” with Nashotah House and apologise to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, to all the other heads of the Local Churches, and to all Orthodox faithful, wherever they are.
I do not think that the OCA shall ever issue such an apology nor is the OCA going to abrogate its concordat with the TEC (for Nashotah House is part of that body, like it or not). This is dangerous brinkmanship by JP, BP, and Hatfield… for the only canonical lifeline for the OCA is its link with the MP. If that goes… the OCA becomes a dead letter and ROCOR shall pick up many of the parishes. Unfortunately, there are parishes (and even two dioceses (the West and the South)) that could join the revolt of JP and Co. We may very well see a “new OCA” composed of rebellious OCA parishes, some AOCANA “convert” parishes, and individuals from the GOA-based Orthodox Christian Laity (OCL).
We had a nasty internecine conflict in the church between the OCA and ROCOR from the mid-sixties until very recently. ADS fomented it, and it caused grievous wounds to the Church. We are still in the process of healing from this pointless internal feud (for such it was… the OCA and ROCOR are both part of the Russian Orthodox Church in the US (a sociological body, not a formal institution)). This new conflict would pit the “new OCA” against all other recognised Orthodox bodies in the US… it bids fair to be nastier and far more spiteful and malicious than the earlier affair. God willing, the OCA shall put aside the scrap of paper signed with the TEC… please, God, let them do it. Otherwise, there shall be hell to pay… literally.