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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

An Interview with His Grace, Bishop Hilarion of Vienna and Austria

This is from the website Orthodoxy Today.

"The OCA plays a special role in American Orthodoxy. Through
its participation in SCOBA it is already involved in fostering pan-Orthodox
unity on the American continent. I believe that one day, sooner or later, there
will be a united Orthodox Church of America that will embrace all currently
existing jurisdictions. It is clear, however, that there is a long road ahead,
and on this road the OCA, which is already constituted as an autocephalous
Church, may assist other Orthodox Churches in identifying themselves as parts of
all-American Orthodoxy.

Dr. Bouteneff: Many times, you have reminded
ecumenical gatherings of the important witness Orthodox Christians make in the
theological, moral, and ethical spheres. Do you believe that ecumenical dialogue
holds promise?

Bp. Hilarion: After more than thirteen years of intensive
ecumenical involvement I can declare my profound disappointment with the
existing forms of “official” ecumenism as represented by the World Council of
Churches, the Conference of European Churches and other similar organizations.
My impression is that they have exhausted their initial potential. Theologically
they lead us nowhere. They produce texts that, for the most part, are pale and
uninspiring. The reason for this is that these organizations include
representatives of a wide variety of churches, from the most “conservative” to
the most “liberal.” And the diversity of views is so great that they cannot say
much in common except for a polite and politically correct talk about “common
call to unity,” “mutual commitment” and “shared responsibility.”

I see
that there is now a deep-seated discrepancy between those churches which strive
to preserve the Holy Tradition and those that constantly revise it to fit modern
standards. This divergence is as evident at the level of religious teaching,
including doctrine and ecclesiology, as it is at the level of church practice,
such as worship and morality.

In my opinion, the recent liberalization
of teaching and practice in many Protestant communities has greatly alienated
them from both the Orthodox and the Roman Catholics. It has also undermined the
common Christian witness to the secularized world. The voice of Christendom is
nowadays deeply disunited: we preach contradictory moral standards, our
doctrinal positions are divergent, and our social perspectives vary a great
deal. One wonders whether we can still speak at all of “Christianity” or whether
it would be more accurate to refer to “Christianities,” that is to say, markedly
diverse versions of the Christian faith.

Under these circumstances I am
not optimistic about the dialogue with the Protestant communities. I am also far
less optimistic about the Anglican-Orthodox dialogue than my beloved teacher
Metropolitan Kallistos Ware. In my opinion, the only two promising ecumenical
dialogues are between the Orthodox and the Roman Catholics, and between the
Eastern and Oriental Orthodox families. While there are well-known theological
differences between these three traditions, there is also very much in common:
we all believe in Christ as fully human and fully divine, we all uphold the
apostolic succession of hierarchy and de facto recognize each others’

But even with regard to relations between the Roman
Catholics and the Orthodox, both Eastern and Oriental, we need new forms of
dialogue and cooperation. It is not sufficient to come once every two years for
a theological discussion on a topic related to controversies that took place
fifteen or ten centuries ago. We need to see whether we can form a common front
for the defense of traditional Christianity without waiting until all our
theological differences will disappear. I call this proposed common front a
“strategic alliance” between the Roman Catholics and the Orthodox. I
deliberately avoid calling it a “union” or a “council,” because I want to avoid
any historical reminiscences and ecclesiastical connotations. Mine is not a call
for yet another “union” on dogmatic and theological matters. I am rather
proposing a new type of partnership based on the understanding that we are no
longer enemies or competitors: we are allies and partners facing common
challenges, such as militant secularism, aggressive Islam and many others. We
can face these challenges together and unite our forces in order to protect
traditional Christianity with its doctrinal and moral teaching."

To read the rest, please goto the website.



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