Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk addressed the Anglicans recently and, pretty much, let ’em have it. For, Orthodox-Anglican relations have seen better days. In fact, His Eminence noted some of the highlights of these relations which date back to the 17th century “beginning with the numerous talks at various levels.” Things improved so that in the 1800’s Patriarch Gregory VI of Constantinople even “permitted the Orthodox clergy to administer the rite of burial to Anglicans if a priest of the Church of England were not available”. While in 1874 Patriarch Joachim II of Constantinople “gave permission to the Orthodox clergy to baptize and marry Anglicans.” Discussions were held on topics such as the “Filioque, the authority of the Ecumenical Councils and the validity of Anglican priesthood.” Committees were established for the churches to better understand one another.
All of that has come under attack. “The first difficulties,” the metropolitan states, “emerged in 1992 when its General Synod agreed to ordain women to the priesthood.” This move eventually led to discussions about the female episcopate. And in reading the preparatory documents for decisions regarding female bishops the “conviction was expressed …that even if the female episcopate were introduced, ecumenical contacts with the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Church would not come to an end. What made the authors of these documents so certain? (emphasis mine),” asks the metropolitan.
It is not only the Filioque and other theological issues which separate us today but we are now faced with ethical differences as well. But this doesn’t mean everything should cease. His Eminence notes: “One of the major tasks in our inter-Christian work today is to unite the efforts of Christians for building a system of solidarity on the basis of Gospel morality in Europe and throughout the world. Our position is shared by the Roman Catholic Church, with which we have held numerous meetings and conferences. Together we are considering the possibility of establishing an Orthodox-Catholic alliance in Europe for defending the traditional values of Christianity. The primary aim of this alliance would be to restore a Christian soul to Europe. We should be engaged in common defense of Christian values against secularism and relativism.”
On that note, the Ad Orientem blog (where, by the way, I read about this talk in the first place; see here) has more Metropolitan Hilarion news (here) who recently criticized mandatory celibacy in the Catholic Church stating that it was “introduced by the Western Church in the 12th century [and] was not known in the early Christian time. Eastern Churches have followed the ancient practice which allowed them to ordain married men.” Just my my hunch but I don’t think they really care what we consider to be the ancient, true practice. For that matter, I don’t think this alliance will last much longer. We’ll have to wait and see.