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New priorities in Russian Orthodox Church’s policy

Postby williams36 » Wed Dec 07, 2016 10:09 am

Scarcely had the frenzy around landmark meeting of Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis in Havana calmed down, when the other meeting was announced to be arranged.

Despite somewhat clouded relationships between Orthodox Church and Roman-Catholic Church, they have complicated but still stable relations. However, such meeting between the Pontiff and the Primate in Havana was the first in a history.

It matters to recall some significant events from history. First attempts to establish a dialog date back to 1970s at the times of John Paul I papacy. Metropolitan Nikodim negotiated with Pope about rapprochement as a new era in Christianity. Suddenly Nikodim died during his visit to Vatican. Pope John Paul I died shortly after. Such mysterious coincidence was explained as God’s “sign” following disapproval of their actions by clergy and most of the laypeople.

Later on John Paul II also attempted to resume the dialog, though it wasn’t crowned with success – yet Church’s stand was firm.

XXI century brings a political interest in Orthodox Church’s life. It worth mentioning that relations between state and Orthodox Church in Eastern Europe have always been special – church supports government and government protects church in return. Nowadays this balance has drastically changed. Present Russian government actively involves church in solving of political issues and utilizes its resources, floc, influence and authority as one of the most influential patriarchy in its own interests.

Rapprochement of two churches through concessions from Orthodox side was highly disputed by clergy and religious people for centuries. Nevertheless this meeting was organized immediately by temporal power’s order, without any discussions at senior clergy level of Russian Orthodox Church (let alone ordinary believers). Decisions over particular steps to rapprochement were made in Kremlin. In other words, the thing has happened to which the Orthodox Church of Russia resisted for a long time – retreat in the face of Romans to suit opportunistic political interests.

The Orthodox canon has several issues concerning rapprochement. It seems that “dialog” backers forgot that almost one thousand years ago there was separation of heresy from true Orthodoxy rather than division of churches. It also refers to evangelic church. That’s why those artificial arguments in favor of compromise are not the same as returning to true obedience to Orthodox Church by sincere shrive and acceptance of faulty choice.

In terms of adherence to canon, both the fact of negotiations between Kirill and Francis and Russian Orthodox Church preparation process raise doubts. According to apostle rules, patriarch should coordinate his intentions with bishops’ council. Such restriction was made to limit patriarch’s authoritarianism. But as appears it was neglected.

It wasn’t long since Kirill’s ecumenism policy has brought its first benefits. The chairman of External Church Relations of Moscow Patriarchy, Ilarion of Volokamsk, known as a main mastermind of rapprochement policy, had a meeting with Cardinal Pietro Parolin in Vatican in September. They were discussing further steps to implement arrangements made between Pope and Patriarch in Havana in February. However, the opening of the Summer Roman-Catholic Church Institute in August under the auspices of Ilarion caused mixed reactions in orthodox environment.

Kirill’s actions and actions of Orthodox Church of Russia were condemned by numerous Orthodox Church representatives. Thus, Havana meeting was criticized by Bulgarian, Montenegrin, Moldavian, Ukrainian and other Churches. Several cathedrals of Moldavian Orthodox Church expressed their compelling stand: following Patriarch and Francis meeting a number of monasteries relinquished commemorating Patriarch Kirill which was stated in special address.

Joint pray of both celebrants and articles of joint declaration concerning unity of actions caused the biggest indignation. The chairman of Ukrainian orthodox brotherhoods union, Valentin Lukiyanik, quite rightly observed that meetings such as in Havana should be hold only once unity among all orthodox people was reached.

Now we can see that Kirill’s policy can lead to unpredictable consequences in the future. It becomes normal for him to make decisions ignoring layprayers’ or even most of clergy’s opinion. Moreover, such authoritarian management inside patriarchy makes him a weapon of government to resume a dialog with West via international Church relations. Such ingratiation is not acceptable. Russian Orthodox Church has always been impregnable for catholic world, but meetings like in Havana can bring Russian Orthodox history to an end.

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