April 28, 2005


Towards a Catholic-Orthodox Alliance (Robert Moynihan, 4/24/05, Orthodoxy Today)

Interview with Hilarion Alfeyev, Bishop of Vienna and Austria, Representative of the Russian Orthodox Church to the European Institutions, by Robert Moynihan, editor-in-chief of 'Inside the Vatican', on 24 April 2005, the day of enthronement of Pope Benedict XVI.

What are your hopes for the new pontificate?

As a Russian Orthodox bishop, I hope, first of all, that the new pontificate will be marked by a breakthrough in relations between the Roman Catholic and the Russian Orthodox Churches, and that a meeting of the Pope of Rome with the Patriarch of Moscow does take place. This meeting must be preceded by concrete steps in the direction of a better mutual understanding, and by careful elaboration of a common position on major dividing issues.

I hope, next, that there will be a general amelioration in the relations between the Catholic Church and the world Orthodoxy, and that the Joint Catholic-Orthodox Theological Commission resumes its work after a five-year pause, or that a new commission for bilateral dialogue is formed in order to discuss Uniatism, primacy and other theological and ecclesiological questions which still divide our churches.

As far as the Catholic Church as such is concerned, I hope that it will continue to preserve its traditional social and moral teaching without surrendering to pressures from the 'progressive' groups that demand the ordination of women, the approval of the so-called 'same-sex marriages,' abortion, contraception, euthanasia, etc. There is no doubt that Benedict XVI, who has already made his positions on these issues clear, will continue to oppose such groups, which exist both within the Catholic Church and outside it.

I also hope that the Catholic Church will continue to combat liberalism, secularism and relativism both in Europe and outside it. Just two days before becoming Pope Benedict XVI, the then Cardinal Ratzinger addressed his fellow cardinals with a sermon which, according to some journalists, broke like a thunderclap. 'We are moving,' he said, toward 'a dictatorship of relativism. that recognizes nothing definite and leaves only one's own ego and one's own desires as the final measure.' A sermon on the eve of the conclave was meant to be programmatic, and it is clear that the war against relativism which Cardinal Ratzinger declared did not scare the other cardinals: on the contrary, by electing him as Pope they expressed their readiness to join him in this noble, but extremely painful and difficult combat.

In order for this combat to be more inclusive, I have recently suggested that a European Catholic-Orthodox Alliance be formed. This alliance may enable European Catholics and Orthodox to fight together against secularism, liberalism and relativism prevailing in modern Europe, may help them to speak with one voice in addressing secular society, may provide for them an ample space where they will discuss modern issues and come to common positions. The social and ethical teachings of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches are extremely close, in many cases practically identical.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 28, 2005 2:15 PM

Yes. When I took that fluky test the other day, I came up with 100% R.C. AND 100% Eastern Orthodox. (They must not have had a question on "Filioque.")

Posted by: Lou Gots at April 29, 2005 2:16 PM