Voices from Russia

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Russian Orthodox Church Raises Fears Over Pro-Gay Protestant Churches

Olav Fykse Tveit

Olav Fykse Tveit (1960- ), General Secretary of the WCC


Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias told the head of the World Council of Churches of his concerns over the position of some Protestant Churches towards homosexuality. WCC General Secretary Dr Olav Fykse Tveit met the Patriarch in Moscow today as part of his first visit to the Russian Orthodox Church (sic) since taking up office last September. According to the WCC, Kirill expressed a “serious concern” about some of the challenges facing ecumenical dialogue in view of what he termed the “new positions of some Protestant churches” on several important moral issues, including their understanding of homosexuality. The Episcopal Church in the USA, in particular, has pursued a liberal agenda in the last decade, consecrating its first openly-gay bishop in 2003, and consecrating its first partnered lesbian bishop this year. The actions angered traditionalist Anglicans worldwide and met with alarm from other denominations, including the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches.

Dr Tveit said the discussion with the Patriarch was “frank”. He said, “His Holiness challenged the council to articulate how it can contribute to build bridges in this situation”. In spite of this, Kirill spoke of his “deep commitment” to the WCC. Dr Tveit praised the work of the Russian Orthodox Church in reaching out to youths. “The Russian Orthodox Church can play an inspiring role in the fellowship of WCC member churches”, he said. “Bringing the younger generations to the faith is a common concern for all of our member churches. We’ve learnt about some of the initiatives taken in this regard under Kirill’s leadership and I think all WCC member churches could benefit from them”.

During the last part of his visit today, Dr Tveit will meet the Very Rev Arkady Shatov, chairman of the Department for Church Charity and Social Services, a visit to the St Dmitri School of Sisters of Charity, and meetings with Russian government officials. The Russian Orthodox Church joined the WCC in 1961, and is its largest member today, with five of its representatives currently sitting on the WCC’s 150-member Central Committee. Joining him on the visit is the WCC deputy general secretary Georges Lemopoulos, as well as WCC staff members, Rev Dr Dagmar Heller (Ecumenical Institute Bossey/Faith and Order) and Fr Dr Daniel Buda (Church and Ecumenical Relations). Following the visit, the Russian Orthodox Church will host the annual meeting of the Permanent Committee on Consensus and Collaboration, which has the responsibility for continuing the dynamic of the Special Commission on Orthodox Participation in the WCC.

29 June 2010

Brian Hutt

Christian Today


Editor’s Note:

I’m not going to ignore the friendly gorilla sitting in the Barcalounger (Mr Gorilla, there’s a cold brewskie on the lamp stand and a pizza on the coffee table). So, His Nibs has a “serious concern” with overt homosexuality amongst Christians. That’s not surprising, given the Scripture’s teaching on sodomites. Do remember Nikon in Yekaterinburg in ’99… he was doctrinally solid, but he was bounced because of unnatural doings (and his highhanded treatment of his diocese didn’t help matters). Everyone knows the stories that circulated (and still circulate) about Feodosy Lazor, Peter l’Huillier, and Benjamin Peterson. There’s no need to repeat them here (I’m not saying that they’re true… I’m saying that they’re circulating… draw your own conclusion, dearies). One should mention that the konvertsy make VERY loud noises about how they’re “superior” to the rest of us as far as morality and Christian life is concerned (they don’t say such overtly, but one picks that impression up easily from all their writing). I’ll content myself by saying that they defend a certain crowd tooth-and-nail… and ignore the obvious evidence of tolerance of a certain perversity. It’s why I pay Reardon, Jacobses, Freeman, Herbel, Honeycutt et al no mind… they have no complaints about the West Village Cowboy or the Iliff cover-up, after all.

In 2009, per friends of mine, Moscow paid for three junkets by JP… two to Moscow and one to Georgia. This year… NADA. I wonder if that had anything to do with JP’s shameless kissing up to the TEC at Nashotah House? After all, KMG has “serious concern” about overt homosexuality in Christian circles… and the TEC is known for such, isn’t it? Indeed… it’s no secret; it’s rather open and notorious. Then, why did JP ink a concordat with such a body? One wonders if he discussed it with Moscow beforehand… one Moscow friend assures me that JP was called to Moscow in late ’09 not only to answer questions from the Holy Synod concerning the diaspora, but also to be taken out to the woodshed by KMG for this stupid move.

I believe that the Centre is well aware of the rumour and innuendo that surrounds many figures in American Orthodoxy. I believe that they’ve investigated the same and drawn their conclusions from it. The only reason that the OCA is still in existence is that it’s useful to the MP in its chess match with the EP… once it loses its utility, it’ll be discarded like a used tissue. Trust me, there’ll be familiar names bandied about… KMG shall have such a PIOUS look on his face… and so shall Bart.

By the way, what’ll be the effect of the end of the OCA on the normal American parish? … Zilch to nada. The Syosset/SVS superstructure is only crudely welded on to the main body of the old Metropolia. Normal parish life would go on… we’d lose some of the HOOMie parishes and a few would go over to Saliba’s bunch (especially those headed by ill-digested Espiskie converts with no real Orthodox formation)… that’s all. Most people wouldn’t even notice the passing of SVS and New Skete… they’re the lucky ones, aren’t they?


Thursday, 10 December 2009

Letter of Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev of Volokolamsk to the Head of the of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), Margot Kässmann (10 December 2009)

Margot Kässmann (1958- ), head of the Council of the EKD


To the Chairman of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), Dr Margot Kässmann,

To the Head of Ecumenism and Work Abroad of the EKD, Dr Martin Schindehütte:

Dear Frau Dr Kässmann!

Dear Herr Dr Schindehütte!

On behalf of His Holiness Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and all the Russias, I thank you for your letter dated 13 November 2009. His Holiness deplores the cancellation of the celebration of 50 years of theological dialogue between the Russian Orthodox Church and the EKD. The EKD took the decision to cancel the celebrations unilaterally, without any consultation with our side. One reason for this decision was, as you say, my comments about the recent election of the President of the Council of the EKD. Indeed, I expressed my disappointment with this election. At the same time, one can hardly call my comments on the subject “inappropriate” because there was nothing offensive to the EKD in them. It seems that everyone has the right to express their opinion openly on one thing or another, especially when it comes to matters of such importance.

You rightly point up that, in the past, the presence of ordained women in the EKD wasn’t an obstacle to our meetings and discussions. Our rationale was as follows. More than 30 years ago, the Holy Synod of our Church stated the following concerning the premise of female ordination. “We see no reason for objecting to any decision of this issue in denominations where ordination isn’t recognised as a sacrament, and where, consequently, in Orthodox terms, there’s no sacramental priesthood, as such” (The Message of the Holy Synod on the Fifth Assembly of the World Council of Churches and its Results (Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate. 1976, No 4 p 9)).

Despite the fact that we hadn’t previously acknowledged the existence of the priesthood in Protestant communities, and, therefore, didn’t recognise them as “churches” in this sense, we engaged in dialogue with some of them using the concept of “a church [talking] with The Church”. However, now, the situation has changed, and a woman is the head of the EKD. This raises fundamental questions about the possibility of continuing the dialogue using this specific concept. This election shows that, despite fifty years of dialogue with Orthodoxy, the other party is on a path that dramatically exacerbates the differences between our traditions. Naturally, the incident raises a fundamental question. This means that our dialogue had as its rationale a movement of the parties involved towards one another, but, what if, on the contrary, the movement of at least one of the participants in this dialogue was in the opposite direction? Moreover, we must take into account the opinion of our faithful, who believe that our meeting and dialoguing with a church headed by a woman is quite unacceptable.

In the circumstances, I decided not to go personally to Germany to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our dialogue. However, I was amenable to sending my deputy with a delegation from the MP DECR to the celebrations in Berlin. We held the Moscow part of the celebrations earlier, as planned, and we were genuinely delighted to see our old friend, Bishop Wolfgang Huber, who led the delegation from the EKD. Unfortunately, a decision of the new leadership of the EKD cancelled all the remaining festivities. They didn’t even deem it necessary to contact me beforehand. Contrary to some assertions in the Russian media, I didn’t, nor did anyone from my staff, announce a “break-off of relations with the EKD”. We appreciate our long-standing friendly relations with German Protestants, and the experience of our theological dialogue will certainly be useful in future.

I regret the fact that the anniversary of our dialogue that brought so many good fruits in the past was at the same time and the end of this dialogue in the format in which it existed for half a century. However, the main reason for this isn’t any statement made in recent days, rather, it’s due to processes that took place in the depths of Western Protestantism over several decades. We, in the [MP], are very concerned about the growing influence of worldly approaches to the development of theology and church life in Protestant communities. The liberalisation of moral standards and derogations from the rules of the organisation of apostolic church life leads us in a spirit of Christian love to witness the authentic Christian tradition to our brothers and sisters.

Today, the gulf between traditional Christian churches and the communities of Western Christians who have embarked on the liberalisation of doctrine, ecclesiastical structure, and ethical rules in favour of modern secular standards is becoming increasingly wider. This isn’t due to any fault by the Orthodox parties, who, over the years of dialogue, didn’t shun their Protestant brothers and sisters, but in contrast, remained loyal to their commitments. By deciding to elect a woman as the head of their church, the EKD made its choice. We’re ready to treat this decision as an internal matter of the EKD. However, as to the format of a dialogue between us that involves our Church, we reserve the right to decide whether it’s best to further continue this dialogue and on the ways in which our further interaction is to occur. I think it’d be appropriate to let some time pass so that we could discuss the situation calmly, for which purpose I’m willing to visit you in Germany in the spring of 2010.

With my best regards,

Archbishop Hilarion Alfeyev of Volokolamsk

Head of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate

10 December 2009




Martin Schindehütte (1949- ), HA’s opposite number in the EKD.


Editor’s Note:

HA has many contacts in Germany, one being the theologian Barbara Hallersleben (I believe that she’s an RC… I stand under correction). The stance of the MP places him in hot water, personally. By instinct, he’s on the “radical left” of the Orthodox spectrum, being somewhat inclined to accept papal claims, amongst other things. He is SVS’s darling (they just elected him to their board… how he can exercise that effectively is anyone’s guess) and he’s the toast of the pseudo-intellectual party in the Church. This places him “between Scylla and Charybdis”, if he placates his German friends, he runs the risk of offending KMG, and as the Boy Wonder has ambitions of being the next patriarch, this wouldn’t be welcome. If he pleases KMG (to further his ambition, let’s be clear), then, his German friends won’t invite him to their love feasts anymore. As he is, perhaps, the most ambitious and calculating hierarch in the Church (only KMG has fewer scruples… and that’s NOT a criticism, mind you), I’d put my money on him playing up to KMG and leaving his erstwhile friends in the lurch. “Paris is worth a mass”. There are good moments in the above, though. Look at the following.

Naturally, the incident raises a fundamental question. This means that our dialogue had as its rationale a movement of the parties involved towards one another, but, what if, on the contrary, the movement of at least one of the participants in this dialogue was in the opposite direction? Moreover, we must take into account the opinion of our faithful, who believe that our meeting and dialoguing with a church headed by a woman is quite unacceptable.

Now, that’s the ticket! If we’re going on paths that are going in opposite directions, well, how CAN we dialogue? This has relevance for JP and Hatfield in re their recent ecumania at Nashotah House. That institution is part of The Episcopal Church (TEC); it has not left that body. That means that it is in communion with the TEC, a body that Katharine Jefferts-Schori heads. If “dialoguing with a church headed by a woman is quite unacceptable”, JP and Hatfield must abrogate their pact with Nashotah House immediately and apologise, not only to the faithful of the OCA, but, to all the Local Churches, to all the First Hierarchs, and to all the faithful and clergy everywhere for having spat upon Christ and His Church. Remember the words of the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church/MP:

In order to destroy sin, one does not engage in diplomatic efforts or go to meetings. Only repentance heals sin…

That is what God calls the EKD and Nashotah House to… repentance. I’m not holding my breath, though. One can only ask God’s mercy upon such people, for they’re going to do what they will, come what may. The above two simple sentences of the UOC/MP Holy Synod DO say it all. We should all heed them.



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