The era of dialogue

The Serbian Orthodox Church consecrated three new bishops this year, one for the newly formed Diocese of Krusevac and two vicar bishops. Among them was Bishop Andrej (Cilerdzic) who is, I think, the first German born bishop. He is appointed vicar to the patriarch. In an interview he gave for the Patriarchate newspaper Pravoslavlje he was asked about church life in the diaspora. He spoke about the help the Serbs received from the German Christians when they arrived as immigrants who came with nothing. “Living in the West are many people who have a sincere Christian faith….At times I don’t understand why there is so much talk about the negative aspect of dialogue with heterodox.”

In his follow-up question, Why is dialogue necessary? he said:

Dialogue is necessary because the Church by her nature is called to unite all in Christ, isolating no one. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself was in dialogue with everyone, even Satan (St. Matthew’s Gospel, temptation). Dialogue must be had with everyone. On the other hand, in the world which is seeing  at great speeds change, integration and globalization, the undivided Christian witness harms the very nature of preaching the good news. The Orthodox Church has a responsibility to witness the ancient faith in dialogue and to correct everything that is not as it should be. And she achieves this by the nature of things and by it’s self-consciousness. For years I was a member of the Committee for inter-church collaboration – I never noticed any of the Orthodox hierarchs veering off the path, that is, that they made a precedent. In those bodies Orthodoxy act united, with one spirit. I think the witness of Orthodoxy in the Western world is received with much gratitude. We live in an era of dialogue.  It shouldn’t be that we Christians have the reputation as the only ones who are not capable for dialogue. I am grateful to His Holiness the Serbian Patriarch Irinej for the confidence he and the members of the Assembly of Bishops have entrusted to me and appointed me to the episcopal service with the title bishop of Remesiana, the ancient and glorious diocese of early Christianity. The great teacher and preacher, missionary and hierarch of the church St. Nikita of Remesiana was seated at this diocese until the year 420, and one of the fathers attending the famed Council of Antioch in 378 which was led by St. Athanasius the Great. Located in present day Bela Palanka this diocese belongs administratively to the diocese of Nis which for nearly 40 years was the current Patriarch’s diocese. The diocese of Remesiana was from early Christian times a link between the united, one-spirited and of one-faith Orthodox West and Orthodox East. In the act of my consecration on September 18th in Belgrade I see the beautiful Providence and intent of God that I, with all my strength and with God’s help, continue this beautiful tradition of building bridges between the West and East.


4 thoughts on “The era of dialogue

  1. I’m all for dialogue but as Makis said, we’ll never see a unified Eastern and Western church. At least not in our lifetime. And again the excellent point is made that as we continue this dialogue with the Western church let’s initiate some sort of dialogue with the so-called “True Orthodox”. It seems to me that at times we can show much more disdain for these so-called true-Orthodox than those who are, theologically so far from us.

  2. Dear George, this dialogue will never succeed in unification. It is, in the words of Archbishop Stylianos of Australia (20 years co-chairman of the Theological Dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church) a “useless game”. Yes, it is good to speak with our brethren who went astray, as Christ Himself conversed with many. But let us also not forget that Christ Himself also gave us another example: He refused dialogue with Pilate and the High Priests. In my humble opinion we have reached the point in our ecumenical contacts that we should greet our Latin and protestant brothers, wish them well, tell them that the door of repentance is allways open for them, and be on our way. From a distance, we should remain praying for them and their enlightenment.
    Because tell me, what have we achieved in all these years of ecumenical talks? Nothing good. In the WCC there are many who do not even believe in the Divinity of Christ. How can we unite? Or Rome, who has put their pontifex on an allmost equal level with God Himself since Gregory VII issued his notorious “Dictatus Papae”? This attitude is gaining grounds again under the current pope, who incidently is from the same frankish origin as Gregory. How can we unite?
    No my friend, we will not see this unification. Instead, we should start focussing more on our other estranged brethren. First and foremost our brethren who call themselves “True Orthodox” and second, our Non-Chalcedonian brothers. Just my 2 cents.

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