Constantinople’s Watered Down Witness

Is His Grace saying that the Patriarch of Constantinople offers a weak and poor witness of the Faith and that if the Russian Church withdraws from the World Council of Churches the Orthodox witness to the ecclesiastical world at large will be diminished?

Bishop Hilarion of Vienna and Austria: Immediate withdrawal of the Russian Orthodox Church from the WCC should only weaken the Church’s positions

Moscow, June 30, Interfax – Withdrawal of the Russian Orthodox Church from the World Council of Churches should weaken positions of Moscow Patriarchate in the inter-Orthodox dialogue, the representative of Russian Church in European international organizations Bishop Hilarion of Vienna and Austria believes.

“This withdrawal may only weaken our positions today in defending the Church teaching which we consider traditional, which for many centuries was the basis of relations among the Orthodox Churches, and which is now challenged by the Patriarchate of Constantinople,” Bishop Hilarion said Monday to Interfax-Religion.

He also mentioned that the last Bishops’ Council discussed “the claims of the Patriarchate of Constantinople to the jurisdiction of the whole diaspora” and the Patriarch of Constantinople’s seeking to receive the position “which is somewhat equal to that of Pope in the Catholic Church.”

“Today, the Russian Orthodox Church is the major opponent of Constantinople, therefore, the Patriarchate of Constantinople is interested in weakening its influence and participation in any organizations with representatives of other Orthodox Churches, including the World Council of Churches,” Bishop Hilarion said.

“I believe that in this specific situation we should think twice before taking any steps to withdraw from the World Council of Churches and any other organizations representing all Orthodox Churches or their majority,” Bishop Hilarion said, reminding us that the World Council of Churches “is currently one of the few platforms where the representatives of different Orthodox Churches meet.”

According to Bishop Hilarion, “the difference between traditional Christianity and its liberal version becomes increasingly sizeable. Again and again, we address the question of whether or not do we need such dialogue where we express our stand on women’s priesthood or one-sex marriages, and at the same time, Protestant communities in the West and the North encourage such processes which make us sever our relations with them,” Bishop Hilarion said.

According to him, the Russian Orthodox Church “is going to break off relations with those Protestant communities which will decide in favour, for example, of same-sex marriages.”

Bishop Hilarion also mentioned that the last Bishops’ Council had no serious discussion about the participation of the Russian Orthodox Church in WCC, although several participants raised the question of its further presence in the ecumenical movement.

“I, therefore, think that this issue remains open and will depend only on the development of this organization and those Protestant communities which now have the majority in it,” Bishop Hilarion said.

Taken from Europica 151 (to subscribe click here).

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