"Let unity, the greatest good of all goods, be your preoccupation." - St. Ignatius of Antioch (Letter to St. Polycarp)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Russian Orthodox Relations: a Warming and a Cooling

Rorate Caeli posted an article two days ago indicating a possible forthcoming meeting between Pope Benedict and Patriarch Kirill, the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church. Yesterday the Telegraph published an article titled, "Russian Orthodox and Catholic Church may end 950-Year Rift." The article begins:

Relations between the Vatican and the Russian Orthodox Church have been tense for centuries, but in a sign that relations are finally thawing, Archbishop Ilarion, who heads the Russian Orthodox Church’s foreign relations department, said that both sides wanted a meeting, although he emphasised that problems remained.

Ilarion spoke of a rapprochement under Pope Benedict XVI that would allow for a meeting with the new Russian Orthodox Patriarch, Kiril, who took up his office in February after the death of the previous patriarch.

"There have been visits at a high level," said Illarion. "We are moving towards the moment when it will become possible to prepare a meeting between the Pope and the Moscow patriarch." (Continue reading)

This comes after yesterday's news that the Russian Orthodox Church may sever relations with the German Evangelical Church over the latter's election of Margot Kassman (in the photo at right) as its bishop.

The Russian Orthodox Church may sever relations with the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD), a major Protestant church of Western Europe that has elected a woman to chair the EKD's council.

The Orthodox clergy say this runs counter to evangelical principles. Analysts fear this could provoke a big inter-faith conflict.

Bishop Margot Kassmann, the first woman to lead the Evangelical Church in Germany, which unites some 24 million Protestants of more than 20 Lutheran and Reformed churches, was elected at the council's meeting on October 28. The 51-year-old bishop of Hanover is divorced and has four daughters.

"We plan to celebrate 50 years of dialog with the German Lutheran Church in late November and early December," Hilarion, the bishop of Volokolamsk and head of the Moscow patriarchy's external church relations department, said on Wednesday. "The celebrations will also mark the end of that dialog."

The Russian Orthodox Church does not accept female clergy. (Continue reading)

H/T: Koinonia, ByzTex, Ad Orientem.

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