Home page News
Interview of Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokol…

Interview of Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk to Interfax news agency

Your Eminence, recently the Lutheran Archbishop of Turku, Kari Mäkinen, stated that the Russian Orthodox Church has suspended dialogue with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland because of the differences concerning the situation of sex and gender minorities. Can you comment on this statement?

The dialogue between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland began in 1970. For the past period, many theological and other issues were discussed and a number of joint documents were adopted to reveal the views of the two Churches on various theological and social issues. The next round of the dialogue was to discuss issues of Christian anthropology, that is, the teachings on man and his relations with God and the world around him.

In recent years, the Protestant community in the West has experienced a serious crisis as many communities have reconsidered some important provisions of the Christian theological and moral teaching. The impact made by liberal secularism on church life has led some Protestant communities in the West to make a decision to establish female priesthood and female episcopate. It has considerably complicated our theological dialogues with them since their aim was to bring Orthodox Churches and Protestant communities closer together, not to divide them. Another step was made by the decision of several Protestant communities to bless same-sex unions. As a result, dialogue with them has become impossible.

This practice is directly contrary to the Christian morality and the moral norms on which the gospel’s teaching is based. The rejection of fundamental ethical norms erodes the notions of sin and virtue and deprives people of moral guidelines, making them helpless in face of their own passions.

The discussion on the above-mentioned issues has recently intensified in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland as well. Their consideration as part of the theological dialogue with the Russian Orthodox Church could make a certain contribution to the elaboration of appropriate arguments. Regrettably, the Finnish side has proved unprepared for discussing these issues in the language of theology rather than practical expediency, on the basis of the common church tradition and Christian teaching on morality.

As His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia noted during his meeting with Archbishop Kari Mäkinen on September 2014 in Moscow, today each church is facing a serious moral choice to stay faithful to Christ or to evade its historical calling, which is to lead people to salvation. The answer to this choice will have to be given before the future generations and before God.

A full-scale theological dialogue with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, as it was in previous decades, has proved impossible today. Nevertheless, the Russian Orthodox Church hopes to preserve and develop relations with this Church in the task of social service, peacemaking and other areas.On September 16, the 13th plenary session of the Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches began its work in Amman, Jordan. What is the aim of the Commission’s work? What questions will be considered by the plenary session?

The Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches was established in 1979 as a platform for discussing theological issues significant for the both Churches. The Commission, which includes an equal number of representatives of Local Orthodox Churches and the Roman Catholic Church, began its work in 1980.

For its more than 30 years of work, the Joint Commission adopted a number of joint documents: “The Mystery of the Church and the Eucharist in the Light of the Holy Trinity”, “Faith, Sacraments and the Unity of the Church”, “The Sacrament of Order in the Sacramental Structure of the Church”, which have revealed many common points in the teaching of the two Churches on sacraments. Of special importance is the document signed in 1993 in Balamand: “Uniatism: as a Method of Union of the Past and Present Search for Full Communion”, in which the Catholics officially agreed for the first time that unia, that is, Rome’s policy of subjecting Eastern Churches to itself, failed to contribute to rapprochement between the Orthodox and the Catholics but, quite the contrary, proved to draw them even further away from each other. The document resolutely condemns any forms of proselytism on the part of the Catholic with regard to the Orthodox.

Regrettably, this document successful from the theoretical perspective has failed to solve the problems in relations between the Orthodox and the Greek Catholics, which resulted from the revival of Uniate church structures in western Ukraine, Romania and other countries in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The aggravation of Orthodox-Catholic relations which took place against this background interrupted the work of the Joint Commission for a long time to be resumed only in 2006.

At present the Joint Commission is engaged in discussing the teaching on primacy and synodality in the Church, on which the Catholics and the Orthodox have many disagreements. In the Roman Catholic Church and in Orthodox Churches, different ecclesiological models have developed through centuries: one centralized and based on the recognition of the universal jurisdiction of the pope of Rome and the other based on the idea of conciliar communion of autocephalous Local Churches. The Commission is to identify differences between these two models and to show what they have in common.

In the process of preparations for the meeting, the Russian Orthodox Church has worked out an official stand on the issue of primacy in the Universal Church. An appropriate document was adopted by the Holy Synod at its meeting on December 25, 2013. It sets forth the traditional Orthodox point of view on this issue, based on abundant patristic sources.

In our view, the meeting of the Joint Commission should not result in adoption of a compromise document but rather in an honest and theologically correct exposure of differences between the teaching on primacy and synodality in the Orthodox and Catholic traditions and a search for the common points which may become a basis for continuation of the dialogue in the future.

Besides, I consider it important that the Commission should revisit the problem of unia as it did not complete the discussion on it in 2000 because of the acute differences between the sides concerning pastoral and canonical consequences of Unia. Since Unia still remains a bleeding wound on the body of the Christendom, as the recent events in Ukraine and extremely politicized statements of Ukrainian Greek-Catholic leaders have shown, this theme needs to be revisited.

Finally, being in the Middle East, in a country bordering, in particular, on Iraq and Syria, one cannot help speaking out about the frightful situation in which the Middle East Christians have found themselves. In Iraq, there is genocide against the Christian population. Most Christians have had to leave their country after Saddam Hussein’s regime was overthrown, while radical Islamists are trying to finish off the remaining ones. The fate of Metropolitan Paul of Aleppo who was kidnapped a year and half ago and who was a member of the Joint Commission for Orthodox-Catholic Dialogue, remains unknown, just as the fate of Metropolitan Mar Gregory Ibrahim who was in the same car with him at the moment of kidnapping.

At a time when we are discussing our theological differences, thousands of Christians – Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant – are shedding blood for the faith in Christ. Such representative gathering as the Joint Commission assembled in Amman cannot stand aside from their suffering and should raise its authoritative voice in their defence.

Share:
Patriarchal condolences on the death of Metropolitan Hilarion of Eastern America and New York

18.05.2022

Patriarch Kirill: Our flock is both in Russia and Ukraine and we ardently pray for the restoration of peace

18.05.2022

Commentary by the Communications Service of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate on the interview given by Pope Francis to the Italian publication Corriere della sera.

04.05.2022

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill’s talk with Primate of Serbian Orthodox Church

27.04.2022

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill celebrates Paschal Great Vespers at the Church of Christ the Saviour

24.04.2022

Paschal Message of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia to the archpastors, pastors, deacons, monastics and all faithful children of the Russian Orthodox Church

23.04.2022

Holy Synod members discuss the issue of rendering aid to refugees and suffering civilians in Ukraine

25.03.2022

Holy Synod considers it important that the Russian Church’s stance on the crisis in Ukraine be brought to notice of the heads of non-Orthodox Churches and inter-Christian organizations

25.03.2022

Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church meets under the chairmanship of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill

24.03.2022

Metropolitan Hilarion: The main thing in a person's life is their relationship with God

20.03.2022

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill’s address to the Supreme Church Council on March 18, 2022

18.03.2022

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill chairing a meeting of the Supreme Church Council

18.03.2022

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill had a talk with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

16.03.2022

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia talks with Pope Francis

16.03.2022

Patriarch’s homily on the Sunday of Orthodoxy at Christ the Saviour Cathedral

13.03.2022

DECR chairman meets with leaders of Baptist World Alliance

23.05.2022

Metropolitan Hilarion meets with the Chairman of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq

23.05.2022

The 25th meeting held by the Working Group for cooperation between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation

19.05.2022

Metropolitan Hilarion meets with leaders of a major inter-Cristian humanitarian organization

13.05.2022

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk visits Exarchate of the Orthodox Church of Jerusalem in Cyprus

13.05.2022

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk meets with Archbishop Chrysostomos of Cyprus

12.05.2022

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk holds negotiations with head of the DECR of the Malankara Church

11.05.2022

DECR chairman meets with representative of the Armenian Apostolic Church Catholicosate of Cilicia

11.05.2022

Metropolitan Hilarion delivered a presentation at the plenary session of the Orthodox Pre-Assembly of the World Council of Churches

11.05.2022

Russian Orthodox Church delegation attends Orthodox Pre-Assembly of World Council of Churches

10.05.2022

Metropolitan Hilarion on the work carried out by the Church amid the political confrontation in Ukraine

09.05.2022

Metropolitan Hilarion: Imposing sanctions will not affect the life of the Russian Orthodox Church

09.05.2022

Metropolitan Hilarion on details of the talk between His Holiness Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis of Rome

09.05.2022

Metropolitan Hilarion: We have learned from own experience that Jesus Christ is God Incarnate

02.05.2022

Metropolitan Hilarion: The Church is called upon to unite people regardless of their political orientation

02.05.2022

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk celebrates Vespers of Good Friday with the procession of the burial-shroud.

22.04.2022

Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk celebrates Vespers and the Divine Liturgy of Saint Basil the Great on Holy and Great Thursday.

21.04.2022

Metropolitan Hilarion: the essence of religious life lies in the love for God

16.01.2022

Metropolitan Hilarion: May the joy of the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ into the world live in our hearts always

09.01.2022

On Christmas Eve, Metropolitan Hilarion celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the Moscow church in honor of the icon of the Mother of God "Joy to All who Sorrow" on Bolshaya Ordynka.

06.01.2022

Metropolitan Hilarion: The Lord calls every person to salvation in a variety of ways

27.12.2021

Metropolitan Hilarion: The Lord has commanded us to love every human being

31.10.2021

Metropolitan Hilarion: on the Feast of the Holy Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos we glorify the heavenly intercession of the Mother of God

14.10.2021

Metropolitan Hilarion: Many things in a person's life depend on faith

29.08.2021

Metropolitan Hilarion: The Holy Spirit is the main treasure of the Christian soul

01.08.2021

Metropolitan Hilarion: Holiness is a constant striving to imitate the Lord Jesus Christ

27.06.2021

Metropolitan Hilarion: God does not want to condemn, but to save us

07.03.2021

Metropolitan Hilarion: The Lord always grants to us the opportunity to display our talents

24.01.2021

Metropolitan Hilarion: The Lord has imbued the waters of Jordan with his divine presence to wash away human sins

19.01.2021

Metropolitan Hilarion: to repent means to change your way of life

17.01.2021

Page is available in the following languages
Feedback

Fields marked by * are mandatory required

Send a message
Рус Укр Eng Deu Ελλ Fra Ita Бълг ქარ Срп Rom عرب