Saturday, February 14, 2004

From blogforlovers
A Valentine’s Day essay

SS. Cyril and Methodius, apostles to the Slavs

More of the Patriarch of Moscow in his own words
The Tablet, a liberal, nominally RC journal, doesn't seem to like the Church of Russia very much.

Here perhaps is a reason why. The patriarch defends the Catholic, apostolic ministry and the natural law and common sense about sexuality:

Patriarch Alexei also has serious theological disagreements with the Anglican Communion. The ordination of women, he says, is a problem – “a thousand years of tradition and the word of the Bible should be respected and not changed to satisfy some temporal developments in the views of people”. And he has broken ties with the Episcopalian Church in the United States of America (Ecusa) after it consecrated the openly gay Gene Robinson as a bishop – “the ordination of a homosexual bishop makes any communications with him or those who elected him impossible”.

Patriarch Alexis II, 1; Cardinal Walter Kasper, nil.

(Of course that should say 'thousands' or 'two thousand years' of tradition; maybe it's a misprint or a mistranslation.)

Yet despite that his tone is conciliatory: “I don’t think we should lump together all the bishops of the Anglican Communion and suggest that they all approve these trends.” He speaks admiringly of the views of the Bishop of Gibraltar, who supervises the Anglican parishes in Moscow and St Petersburg, and of the Archbishop of Canterbury with whom “we had a very warm meeting and conversation”. And he concludes: “It’s hard for me to issue recommendations to the Anglican Communion. I think we should continue to meet.”

Quite right. I know (slightly) one of the bishop of Gibraltar's former canons, who has been to the recently reopened Anglican church (for British visitors and residents) in Moscow, used by the Soviets as the studio and warehouse for the famous Melodiya record company.

We disagree with the statement we hear in the West sometimes that we live in the post-Christian era.

I like the sound of that!

There was an illustration of that in the highly indignant Orthodox priest who complained to me about Baptists hiring halls to hold mission evenings which they advertised as “Christian” events. The Orthodox were outraged. “Christian” and “Orthodox” are synonymous, the Russian cleric told me, so the Baptists were perpetrating a deliberate con, tricking people into thinking they were coming to an Orthodox event.

I think in this situation I agree with the priest!

But the animus is strongest against Catholicism. Not that there is much genuine theological disagreement.

I haven't found Russian immigrants particularly hostile to other Christians, and historically the Russian Church hasn't acted like that, at least in the immigration as a guest, an ethnic chaplaincy, in other Christian countries. (A situation I think the Orthodox groups are still coming to terms with.) St Tikhon, its head bishop in late 1800s America, sat in choir for a consecration in the Episcopal cathedral in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Metropolitan Anastassy, the second-ever first hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad, once preached at St Paul's Cathedral in London; this group later looked up to Pope Pius XII as an anti-Communist leader, which may be why they sent observers to Vatican II, not long after that Pope died.

But if it's true (I've never been to Russia), daniel n has something to say.

What particularly incensed Moscow was the Vatican’s decision to turn Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, head of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Russia, from an “apostolic administrator” into a “metropolitan archbishop” thus, according to the Patriarchate, making Russia a province of the Roman Catholic Church.

I agree. That was unnecessary and unusually vicious, out of character for RC activity in Russia. I understand, however, that Abp Kondrusiewicz, an ethnic Pole from Byelorussia, is a gentleman and does not solicit conversions from practising Russian Orthodox.

“...Many missionary orders work in Russia today, especially in the shelters and orphanages for children organised by these orders, where children who have been baptised in Orthodoxy are being converted to Catholicism.”

I really doubt that's happening. For one thing, if it were, the Russian government would find some excuse to throw them all out.

Funny, though, how Alexis II never mentions some things that do happen: the money, church buildings and clergy training Aid to the Church in Need have constructed and/or given bishops and priests of his own church. Makes His Beatitude seem more like His Ingratitude.

But he [Cardinal Kasper] has also revealed the extent to which the Vatican is wedded to the Enlightenment value system so alien to Moscow.

And that's good because... ?