Here are two very interesting articles from His Grace, Bishop Hilarion (Alfeyev), Russian Orthodox Bishop of Vienna and representative to the European Institutions.
The first piece is a fantastic address on “liberal Christianity”, given by His Grace to the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches in Geneva, on February 13. I couldn’t agree more that “liberal Christianity” is a “danger” and “will not survive a long time.” So, bravo to Bishop Hilarion for his brave words to the WCC.
The second piece is unfortunate, in my opinion, but not surprising. It’s a short response to the Cardinal Kasper interview I posted yesterday. Basically, more fallout from the Russian-Constantinopolitan row over Estonia which caused Bishop Hilarion and the Russian delegation to boycott the Orthodox-Catholic meeting in Ravenna.
I am especially confused about Bishop Hilarion’s interpretation of the Cardinal words about “a new form of the exercise of the primacy” as a dastardly plan to bring the Orthodox under the yoke of Uniate servitude.
Apparently His Grace passed over the part where Cardinal Kasper says that “the model of the exercise of primacy we have in the Eastern Catholic Churches is not necessarily the model for the future reconciliation with the Orthodox Churches.” And again: “We do not want to impose the system which today is in the Latin Church on the Orthodox Churches” (I would assume that this current system includes Rome’s heavy-handed way of relating to the Eastern Catholic Churches). Thus, I don’t believe that the old model of Uniatism is what the Cardinal refers to when he speaks of “new forms” for the exercise of universal primacy within the Church. I am surprised that the brilliant young Bishop of Vienna would jump to the sloppy conclusion that “the Chairman of the Council for Promoting Christian Unity invites the Orthodox to accept the Uniate understanding of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome.” The Pope and Cardinal Kasper, I’m sure, are well aware that the Uniate model is a no-go with the Orthodox.
I do appreciate, however, His Grace’s willingness to continue on with the dialogue: “I would like to reiterate that good and constructive relations between the Catholics and the Orthodox are crucial for the present and future of Christianity. We need a type of relationship based on the understanding of the fact that we are allies, not adversaries, that we have a common missionary task and face common challenges, to which we can respond together.”
This just in …
Another one from Cardinal Kasper, hailing a “new climate” with the Russian Orthodox Church. Kasper clarifies, by the way, that uniatism, “understood as a method, today and in the future, is no longer a means of achieving Church unity.”