Relations between the Russian Orthodox and Catholic Church in recent years are experiencing a " positive trend," due to the "clear recognition of the need to join forces in defence of traditional Christian values and counter some threats of modernity, such as the 'aggressive secularism which threatens the moral basis of social and private life, the crisis of family values and the persecution and discrimination of Christians in the world".
overview of inter-Christian dialogue, and in particular with the
Catholic Church, was given by the Patriarch of Moscow, Kirill, as he
opened the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church on February
In his speech, published on the Patriarchate website, Kirill recalled
some of the events in ecumenical dialogue with Catholics. Among these,
the work of the the Joint International Commission for Theological
Dialogue between the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, that
aims to outline "a common position on a number of topical issues
including family, church and state relations, the moral and spiritual
reasons for the economic crisis. "
Kirill highlighted his visit
to Poland in August, the first as head of the Russian Orthodox Church
and the 'historical' signature together with the President of the Polish
Bishops' Conference, Msgr. Jozef Michalik, of a joint statement. The
document is defined by the Patriarch as "the reflection of a mutual
desire to forgive offenses and heal past wounds that have obscured
relations between the Russian and Polish peoples." The two churches have
thus traced a common path with respect to issues such as secularism,
abortion, euthanasia and the family.
In his message, the
Patriarch hopes for continued good relations with the ancient Churches
of the East, "especially at a time like this where countries once
considered Christian are turning in a hostile manner on Christians
themselves." The reference is to the situation of the community in the
Middle East and Africa, victim of targeted attacks by Islamic
fundamentalism. Kirill has thus called for "solidarity between
Christians in protecting the dignity of believers and to condemn hatred
and vandalism against places of worship."
Finally, in his message
to the Council, the Patriarch criticized the Protestant communities,
which "continue on the path of liberalization, especially in
ecclesiology and moral teaching." His criticisms are directed at the
"blessing of homosexual unions and ordination of people who have openly
admitted a non-traditional sexual orientation" that is becoming "the
norm for several Protestant communities in the West". For this reason,
he said, trying to achieve a common doctrinal position with these
churches "has lost its meaning."
In the final resolution of the
Council of Bishops, which ended on Feb. 5, the orthodox bishops
subscribed to these positions, however, they also raised "concerns"
regarding the theological Orthodox-Catholic dialogue. The Council notes
"differences of approach" in the dialogue itself and expresses "doubts"
regarding documents produced on the theme of Primacy in the universal
Church, conciliarity (sobornost), orthodox doctrine and canonical
The bishops stressed the need to make the process "more
transparent." They propose the inclusion of all bishops in the
discussion of documents prepared by the committees responsible for the
theological dialogue with Catholics.
This consultation is justified, by
"the primary importance of these decisions and the responsibility of
bishops to preserve the purity of the Orthodox faith and the peace and
unity of the Church."