Thursday, October 16, 2014

Russian Church speaks very plainly to Catholic Synod

As always, Met. Hilarion was exceedingly direct in his address to the Catholic hierarchs assembled to discuss the Church and the family. It will be no surprise, then, that he brings up Uniatism as a stumbling block to further rapprochement.


(mospat.ru) - GREETING ADDRESS BY METROPOLITAN HILARION OF VOLOKOLAMSK TO THE THIRD EXTRAORDINARY GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE SYNOD OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS ON PASTORAL CHALLENGES TO THE FAMILY IN THE CONTEXT OF EVANGELIZATION

Your Holiness,

Your Beatitudes,

Your Eminences and Your Excellencies:

Allow me first of all to greet you on behalf of the primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, His Holiness Kirill, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia.

The topic of the family is one of the most acute and vital today. It is an indicator of the moral state of the society in which we live.

We have anxiously watched as abuse of the notions of freedom and tolerance has been used in recent years to dismantle the basic values rooted in religious traditions. There is an increasingly aggressive propagation of the idea of moral relativism applied also to the institution of the family held sacred by all of humanity.

In quite a number of countries in Europe and America, despite numerous protests, same-sex unions are approved and recognized on the level of the state. In some places, the right of same-sex partners to adopt children has already been fixed legally and implemented, including through the use of “surrogate motherhood” technology.

At the same time, traditional families built on the notion of marriage as union of man and woman become weaker and weaker. Instead of concern for their consolidation, there is the propaganda of so-called “free relations”. The notions of fidelity, mutual respect and responsibility of spouses are replaced by the imposition of hedonism and calls to live for one’s own self.

Children are no longer seen as the desirable fruit of spouses’ mutual love. The right of abortion, restricted by almost nothing, has become widespread, and has led to the legalization of the destruction of millions of lives. Among the serious problems is the existence of orphans whose parents are still alive, and abandoned and lonely disabled children.

The ideas of moral relativism have also affected many Christians who in words confess the Church’s teaching on the family but in deed refuse to follow it.

Asserting the sanctity of marriage based on the words of the Saviour Himself (see Mt. 19:6, Mk. 10:9), the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church traditionally place personal responsibility above egotistical interests. To cultivate in a Christian this responsibility before the family, society and the surrounding world is the most important tasks for Churches today. The protection of human dignity and affirmation of the lofty value of love realized in the family is an integral component of the Gospel message that we are called to bring to people.

In November 2013, the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Pontifical Council for the Family led by Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia held in Rome a conference on ‘Orthodox and Catholics Protecting the Family Together’. In the final statement, we underlined “our conviction that we bear a common responsibility for making marriage and family life the way to sanctity for Christian families”.

The time has come for Christians to join efforts and come out as a united front for the noble goal of protecting the family when confronted by the challenges of the secular world for the sake of preserving the future of civilization. It is the field in which our alliance may become really needed.

We should together defend our positions both in dialogue with the legislative and executive authorities in particular countries and on the platforms of international organizations, such as the UN and the Council of Europe. We already have a certain experience of such cooperation; it is enough to recall the well-known case of Lautsi versus Italy.

It is essential not to confine ourselves to noble appeals, but to press in every possible way for the legal protection of the family. It is necessary to restore in our society the awareness that freedom is unthinkable without responsibility for one’s actions.

The Orthodox Church consistently proclaims the ideal of the one and only marital union concluded once and for all. At the same time, conceding the weakness of human nature, in exceptional cases the Orthodox Church allows for a new church marriage in the instance of the breakup of the first marriage. In this our Church follows the principle of oikonomia, guided as she is by the love of the sinner who is not to be deprived of the means of salvation. In today’s world, in which the strict observance of the church ordinances becomes increasingly rare, the practice of oikonomia, which has existed in Orthodoxy throughout the centuries, may become a valuable experience in settling the pastoral problems of the family.

The Orthodox Church has accumulated a rich experience of pastoral care for the family. She has always preserved the institution of married clergy. As a rule, the families of priests are large and their children are brought up in the spirit of Christian devotion and faithfulness to church teaching. A priest with his own experience of family relations and parenting can better understand family problems and give his spiritual children the necessary pastoral aid. I believe it would be useful to notice this experience, which is also present in the Catholic Churches of the Eastern Rite.

Speaking about the Churches of the Eastern Rite, I would like to digress from the forum’s topics and to touch upon an issue that has become today a stumbling block in the relations between the Orthodox and the Catholic Churches. It is the problem of Uniatism which has become once again more acute as a result of the recent events in Ukraine. Regrettably, the conflict in that country, which has already taken the lives of thousands, from the very beginning has acquired a religious dimension.

A significant role in its conception and development has been played by the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. From the very first days of the conflict, the Greek Catholics identified with one of the sides of the confrontation. Contrary to the respect for canonical norms prevailing in relations between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, the Greek Catholics have entered into active cooperation with the Orthodox schismatic groups.

The Joint Commission for Orthodox-Catholic Dialogue, as far back as 1993 in Balamand, recognized that Uniatism is not the way to unity. We are grateful to our Catholic brothers for their open recognition of the mistakenness of Uniatism. And we have to state regrettably again that Uniatism does not bring the Orthodox and the Catholics any closer to each other; on the contrary, it divides us.

On behalf of the Russian Orthodox Church, I would like to address the representatives of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church present in this hall with an appeal to renounce any statements on political topics and any visible forms of support of the schism as well as calls to create “one Local Church of Ukraine”. For standing behind this call is a simple truth, the wish to tear away the Orthodox faithful in Ukraine from their Mother Church, the Moscow Patriarchate, with which Ukraine has been bound by age-old blood ties.

The principal mission of the Church is to serve the cause of people’s salvation. The mandate given to us by God does not presuppose interference in political and civil conflicts. In a world in which there are so many divisions, in which the very foundations of the survival of human civilization, including the institution of the family, are under threat, Christians are called to be “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” (Mt. 5:13-14), bringing all to the love of each other and to unity in Christ.

We can do much together, also for the protection of the Christians who have become today victims of persecution. In Iraq and Syria and in a number of other countries in the Middle East and Africa, Christians are subjected to genocide. We should do all that depends on us to stop the killing of Christians, to stop their mass exodus from the places where they have lived for centuries, to draw the attention of the whole world community to their calamitous state.

I wish you all, dear brothers, God’s blessing and success in your efforts!

37 comments:

  1. So couldn't the Metropolitan just stick to addressing the issues being discussed at the Synod ?

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  2. Also, the Metropolitan Church of Kiev is the mother Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, not the other way around. Maybe the Metropolitan should read Crisis and Reform: The Kyivan Metropolitanate, the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and the Genesis of the Union of Brest by Bishop Borys (Gudziak)

    http://www.amazon.com/Crisis-Reform-Metropolitanate-Patriarchate-Constantinople/dp/091645892X




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    1. Yeah... none of the Muscovites like to talk about Isidore of Kiev or the fact that the Church of Moscow was the state church of the Czar until the saintly Tikhon of Moscow.

      A great usurpation if ever there was one.

      The Moscow Patriarchate sometimes reminds of the worst and most absolutist of the Roman popes.

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  3. It's nice to see that our own Cardinal Walter Kasper isn't the only xenophobic nut job on the loose. Like I've been saying for years, the Orthodox and Catholics have more in common than they think.

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  4. Anyone who uses the term "Uniate" or "Uniatism" should be relegated to the realm of the ignorant and insensitive.

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    1. The Romanian Greek Catholic Church calls herself Uniate: Biserica Română Unită cu Roma (www.bru.ro)
      I think the word Uniate only has a pejorative meaning in English, and it is therefore a bit rash to call Met. Hilarion "ignorant and insensitive" because of using it.

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    3. I don't speak Romanian, but in English at least there is a difference between "in union with Rome" (acceptable) and "uniate" (not).

      A variety of Russian Catholics calls themselves: Russian Orthodox in union with Rome, but would not like to be called "uniates" which they see as pejorative.

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    4. "UNITA" in romanian means "UNITED", which stands for "IN COMUNION whith", and not "uniate", which indeed is a pejorative term, not only in english but also in romanian.

      A Romanian :)

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    5. Uniates & Uniatism are the terms used in ecumenical dialogue between the Catholic & Orthodox churches:http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/ch_orthodox_docs/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_19930624_lebanon_en.html

      UNIATISM, METHOD OF UNION OF THE PAST,
      AND THE PRESENT SEARCH FOR FULL COMMUNION*



      Introduction

      1. At the request of the Orthodox Churches, the normal progression of the theological dialogue with the Catholic Church has been set aside so that immediate attention might be given to the question which is called "uniatism".

      2. With regard to the method which has been called "uniatism", it was stated at Freising (June 1990) that "we reject it as method for the search for unity because it is opposed to the common tradition of our Churches".

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    6. Steve_Barrie, I'm not sure what your point is?

      It's not a neutral term because it's used in theological dialogue. It's used in that document as a description of something bad that is rejected by both sides. Met. Hilarion says that ANY statements on political topics by the UCC are the fruit of Uniatism and therefore bad. Furthermore, since everyone knows that the UCC Patriarch has made statements arguably on political topics, he's in effect accusing the Patriarch of bad behavior, of uniatism. He knows that it's a very negative thing to say.

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  6. It's really refreshing to hear a churchman speaking with such clarity.

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  7. Bravo to the Metropolitan for speaking with truth and clarity!!!

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  8. I was agreeing with Hilarion when he was on topic with regard to the family. His comments on the Ukrainian Church smack of ignorance and Moscow-propaganda/rewriting of history. Do they forget that it was Kiev that that housed the Metropolitan of all Rus while Moscow was still a wooden frontier stockade?

    Frankly, I never understood this obsession with "One Church of One Area". It has caused a stupid and unnecessary schism between the Jerusalem Patriarchate and the Antiochian Greeks. Why can't there be four Ukrainian Patriarchates operating in parallel and in communion with one another? I'd argue that the goal should be to restore full communion among all four of the Ukrainian churches and leave the meddling hands of Moscow out of it.

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    1. A bishop is wedded to his diocese. A diocese can't have two husbands.

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    2. Yes... but a diocese is not necessarily fixed to a physical space. Rome in ancient days had five or so bishops to take care of all the faithful in the city. A diocese is more about the people the priests and bishop tend to.

      Take, for instance, Campos. After the renegade traditionalists were reunited they got their own diocese. The city has two dioceses that occupy the same space.

      If a bishop and a diocese are husband and wife, then the geographic area is just that. There shouldn't be a problem for four couples to amicably share a house.

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    3. Such a situation (four Ukrainian jurisdications) would not be any more theologically troubling than the overlapping jurisdictions in the West, and similar oikonomia arguments can be made for tolerating such a situation, at least as an interim measure. That said, the Western situation has developed mostly by accident, while the Ukrainian situation is the fruit of various schisms, which one may be loath to validate the results of.

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    4. I sympathize. The solution would be then to hold a synod of all four churches where they could work to reunite as one.

      Whatever happens, Moscow's fingers should be kept clear of it.

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    5. I think such a synod would be admirable, and much to be desired. Sadly, I am not optimistic that the different Orthodox churches would be willing to even engage in this process. I fear that the bottom line for the two schismatic jurisdictions is autocephaly for Ukraine, which is (rightly in my view) seen as a pretty naked expression of phyletism. That said, perhaps a middle way could be proposed whereby the Moscow Patriarchate would accept an parallel autonomous (but not autocephalous) Ukrainian hierarchy under a different Patriarchate (perhaps, but not necessarily Constantinople; Antioch is another option). I would think this would have to be explicitly an interim solution, whereby Constantinople or Antioch would be working explicitly to reintegrate the Ukrainians with the Russians.

      Another possible solution, but perhaps not a realistic one, would be if the Moscow Patriarchate were to signal a willingness to return the Patriarchal seat to Kiev. Since the principal objection of the schismatics is the percieved too-close relationship between the ROC and the Russian government, perhaps restoration of unity would be possible under those conditions.

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  9. Naturally, it is easy to agree with the Metropolitan's on-topic statements.

    Meanwhile, the hypocrisy of a Russian Orthodox prelate saying "[t]he mandate given to us by God does not presuppose interference in political and civil conflict," is truly breath-taking.

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  10. The Metropolitan of Kiev moved from Kiev to Vladimir in ca. 1295 and from Vladimir to Moscow in ca. 1325, all the while retaining the title of "Metropolitan of Kiev." Then came the business of Metropolitan Isidore and the Union of Florence, which resulted in Isidore's imprisonment and expulsion, Moscow declaring its autocephaly, and Constantinople recognizing a new "Metropolitanate of Moscow" in 1461.

    Meanwhile, the "uniate" immediate successors of the now Cardinal Isidore kept the title of "Metropolitan of Kiev" while actually residing in Vilno/Vilnius. Down until the 1480s they claimed to be in communion with both Rome and Constantinople, neither of which was concerned enough, or willing, to make an issue of that claim, but by 1500 that metropolitanate was definitely "under" Constantinople and not "recognized" by Rome. It was a later metropolitan of that "Vilno line" who initiated the process that led to the Union of Brest in 1595, and although he may have had second thoughts before his death in 1599 it is the "Vilno line" that is continued in the Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church. In ca. 1625 Constantinople created another metropolitanate of Kiev, this time resident in Kiev, for Orthodox Christians resident in the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth. So this is, historically, a situation of "who's the real mother and who are the stepmothers."

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  11. I very much enjoyed reading the report given by His Eminence to the Synod being held in Rome. However, in my humble opinion, I believe his comments on the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine might have been more appropriately presented within the context of another forum, rather than within the synod meeting itself.

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  12. I am still puzzled at how a prelate who presides over a country which is currently committing demographic suicide while boasting his church "has accumulated a rich experience of pastoral care for the family." All of the stuff on "Uniatism" is embarrassingly bad, but not unexpected. He's been pounding that point for nearly a year now.

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    1. All the stuff on Uniatism is absolutely accurate.

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    2. That is sort of an outdated assertion. e.g. http://www.forbes.com/sites/markadomanis/2014/04/04/in-early-2014-russias-demography-continues-to-improve/

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  13. While it's relatively rare for Met. Hilarion, his message to the Synod placed himself comfortably within the radical liberal camp. It would be helpful if this intervention triggered a consideration of Orthodox self-understanding of second marriages. If, as the Orthodox hierarchs at Florence said, they only grant divorces "for good reason", and if the breakdown of marriages is evidence of a spiritual illness, perhaps we are not so very far from recognising a defect in the marriage ab initio.

    With respect to his comments on the Eastern Catholics, it is unfortunate that the Orthodox should continue to harp on this. It is difficult to see any other reasonable structure for those who have Eastern liturgical and theological traditions, but a belief that communion with the Church of Rome is essential. Are they to be Orthodox until complete reunion is achieved? Do they need to be forced to accept Latin customs?

    What might be helpful is if the Catholic Church were to clearly state that it envisions, in a reunited Church, one particular church in each area. This would eventually see the UGCC folded into the Moscow Patriarchate, for example. Ultimately, the example of the Eastern Catholics shoud be a rebuke to Orthodox schismatics, not a comfort.

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  14. The family is under siege. Gay "couples" who adopt deny the child a mother, real not surrogate.

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  15. Russia is clawing back from 75 years of socialism and a lost, lawless decade under Yeltsin and the economic tutelage of Jeffrey Sachs. The Russian state outlaws homosexual propaganda and gives priority to Christianity in the public square. The US broadcasts homosexual and transsexual propaganda and subordinates Christianity to militant secularism. But I'm supposed to hate Russia.

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    1. I agree with the sentiment wholeheartedly, but I despise Russia's treatment of its neighbors. As a Pole, this pattern of theirs goes back to Czarist times.

      The real loser is the Ukraine, shoved between an immoral and decadent West and a Russia that wants to annex it.

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    2. "As a Pole, this pattern of theirs goes back to Czarist times. "
      So does the Polish pattern. Poland tried to annex Russia long before the Czar annexed Poland.

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