Sofia, Bulgaria, Apr 24, 2008 / 02:02 am (CNA) – Bishop Hilarion, the Russian Orthodox Bishop of Vienna and Austria, has said in an interview that the Orthodox and Catholic Churches are allies who could form a strategic alliance to defend Christian values, Interfax reports. He also criticized many Protestants for having a “light version” of Christianity.
Speaking to the Bulgarian magazine Christianity and Culture, Bishop Hilarion said, “We must realize that Orthodox and Catholic believers are no longer rivals. We are allies. The rivalry must be gone once and for all. If we understand that, proselytism will stop.”
The bishop said that “romantic ecumenism,“ which he said characterizes the World Council of Churches and the Conference of European Churches, is not viable. He said that many Protestants have created a “light version of Christianity, without apostolic succession, without sacraments, without strict dogmatic teaching and what is also important they don’t require sticking to Christian moral norms.”
He said this version of Christianity, when it revises Christian theological or moral teachings to become more “modern” or “politically correct,” becomes “a direct way to spiritual death.” He said this version of Christianity had stopped recognizing centuries-old sins, and now even promotes them.
Bishop Hilarion’s statement comes just days after Pope Benedict addressed an ecumenical gathering in New York where he also denounced versions of Christianity that contradict apostolic teachings. At the gathering of about 300 people, the Pope said that Christian churches which change their beliefs by so-called ‘prophetic actions,’ often use a method of interpretation that is inconsistent with Scripture and Tradition.
The Holy Father added that this causes those interested in Christianity to become “understandably confused about the Gospel message itself” because they see Christians splintering and disagreeing about the beliefs of the faith.
The “message that the world is waiting to hear from us,” the Pope said, is “a clear, convincing testimony to the salvation wrought for us in Christ Jesus”… “based upon the notion of normative apostolic teaching: a teaching which indeed underlies the inspired word of God and sustains the sacramental life of Christians today.”
According to Interfax, Bishop Hilarion said a joint Orthodox-Catholic “front” is necessary to oppose both the challenges of secularism and dialogue with other world religions. Bilateral, strategic partnerships between the two Churches, he thought, would be the best way to achieve this.
“I don’t mean union, administrative merger or compromise in theological teaching, I mean strategical partnership,” said Bishop Hilarion, who is also the Russian Orthodox Church Representative to European International Organizations.
Moscow, April 28, Interfax – Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia has called for the development of relations between Orthodox and Catholics at a meeting with Salzburg Archbishop Alois Kothgasser, the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations told Interfax-Religion on Monday.
“This relationship is particularly important for the promotion of traditional moral values, Christian ideas of social and family relations, human rights and dignity in modern Europe,” Alexy II said.
The archbishop is visiting Moscow with a delegation of Salzburg clerics and believers. He met with Patriarch at the Savior Cathedral in Moscow on Sunday.
“We attribute a huge significance to the development of friendly relations with the Catholic diocese of Salzburg. This is not just because your city has cultural and historical importance,” Alexy II said.
He confirmed the good relations between the Catholic Church in Austria and the local diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church.
“We are grateful to representatives of the Roman Catholic Church for their unwavering attention and assistance to the church life of our flock in Austria,” he said.