Comments: Russians write to (some) Network bishops

How very, well, Byzantine! I have great respect for the Orthodox, but while the West has at least attempted to address the sins of its Imperial past, the East doesn't even recognize them, indeed, sees its Imperial history as something to be yearned for. For a Church that has so closely allied itself to worldly political power to state "Any attempt to adjust Christian morality and especially the church order to the political tastes of an external environment is dangerous as it threatens with a loss of Christian identity" is laughable. I agree entirely with the statement, but I would have to ask His Grace how the Russian Church can consider that She has not done so in Her more than 1000 year history, or the Church of the Byzantine Empire that preceded Her.

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 24 August 2006 at 1:37pm BST

Now this is a valueless contribution to the Episcopal/Anglican Communion "welcoming/including" dilemma!

Just think of it, the Russian Orthodox Church actually "burned down" a parish church where a Gay "blessing" had been given...more extreme thinking and radical Church clensing ideas and covenants for the Network/Nigerian Puritans to ponder/inact? Maybe the ABC should be "open" to the Russian "solution" and invite their bishops to the New York meeting too...afterall, it does take time to "change" and we don't want to distance ourselves extra quickly from Orthodox "Paternal" (Russian or not) wisdom.

Posted by Leonardo Ricardo at Thursday, 24 August 2006 at 2:16pm BST

Gee this is interesting theology is it not? The enemy of my enemy is my friend. I guess we had better keep praying for PB elect Jefferts Schori, since all the indications are that she truly has her work as primate cut out for her. The recriminations are piling high and higher and ...

Perhaps her election will some day be credited for aiding the divided traditional or conservative churches to come closer together in dislike of her intelligence, her gifts, her leadership, her disinterest in police powers to be used against Queer Folks, and oh yes, her sex and gender. Powerful, powerful, powerful stuff.

Posted by drdanfee at Thursday, 24 August 2006 at 3:58pm BST

This is sad, really. The faces of the relationships between the Russian Orthodox Church have been Presiding Bishop Griswold; Bishop George Packard, Bishop Suffragan for Chaplaincies; Bishop Christopher Epting, Deputy for Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations; and Bishop Mark Dyer, retired and now on faculty at Virginia Theological Seminary, as a member of the International Commission of the Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue. Clearly, their contacts were not worthy of acknowledgement.

With due respect to Metropolitan Kyrill, the divisions within those churches that trace their heritage to the Patriarchate of Moscow are no less problematic than those some seem to want for Anglicans. The rhetoric coming from the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia regarding others from that heritage can be truly vitriolic. Too, the Patriarchate calls for a cultural connection to Orthodoxy within Russia that has led to great difficulties for other Christian bodies. We might say that Anglican difficulties rise from differences over emphases in a shared heritage, both religious and cultural. The Russian Church, however, reflects a greater difference in mindset than many know.

Posted by Marshall Scott at Thursday, 24 August 2006 at 7:11pm BST

For a Church that has so closely allied itself to worldly political power to state "Any attempt to adjust Christian morality and especially the church order to the political tastes of an external environment is dangerous as it threatens with a loss of Christian identity" is laughable.

The separation of church and state is a modern idea that has nothing to do with the Christianity of the ecumenical councils which were convened by the Emperor who usually attended the proceedings.

Also, the Orthodox church does not uncritically support the actions of the state, nor did it do so in the past. The history of the Eastern Roman empire is full of examples of disagreements between the Orthodox and political power, during the period of iconoclasm, for example, or following the council of Florence-Ferrara.

Posted by Dienekes at Thursday, 24 August 2006 at 10:34pm BST

Well said, Leonardo Ricardo: "Maybe the ABC should be "open" to the Russian "solution" and invite their bishops to the New York meeting too...afterall, it does take time to "change" and we don't want to distance ourselves extra quickly from Orthodox "Paternal" (Russian or not) wisdom."

Years ago I was involved in ecumenical work with the Eastern Orthodox, Greek and Antiochene. Back then they wouldn't give Holy Communion to menstruants, nor allow women access to the altar area - just to be on the safe side, lest the sacred elements be rendered 'unclean'.

What else can one expect of the Orthodox? How can they recognize +Katharine Jefferts Schori as being in Holy Orders?

I wonder why they even bother to baptize and chrismate women?

Posted by John Henry at Thursday, 24 August 2006 at 10:56pm BST

"Years ago I was involved in ecumenical work with the Eastern Orthodox, Greek and Antiochene. Back then they wouldn't give Holy Communion to menstruants ... "

Uh, I don't think I really want an answer to this, but how did they, uh, know?

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Friday, 25 August 2006 at 11:16am BST

Dienekes,
Granted the Orthodox Church's support for the Imperial power hasn't always been uncritical. However, for every bishop that criticized the Emperor, there were many others who went along where it was convenient. The Church's involvement in the recent misery in the Balkans is a prime example of the "phyletism" that plagues the East. Orthodoxy is certainly more tied to nationalist issues than any other modern Church. So, sorry, while I do have great respect for orthodoxy, even at times have thought about converting, she seems to be just as much sold out to the world as any other Church.

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 25 August 2006 at 12:16pm BST

They don't know. They just told women that they shouldn't present themselves for communion when menstruating.

The Orthodox mostly all have strange hangups about menstruation. On Orthodox priest I was discussing OW with was very, very concerned that the priest would defile the church by presiding at a eucharist while menstruating. It goes back to Jewish purity laws which they have somehow clung to.

Posted by ruidh at Friday, 25 August 2006 at 1:22pm BST

In answer to Cynthia's question, presumably girls were taught not to come for communion at that "time of the month". But you know, not to get too carried away with all this Orthodox bashing, it is well within living memory (ie, mine) when one of the slang terms for menstruation was "the curse", as in God's upon Eve. Inculturation happens to all of us at different rates and in all churches.....

Posted by Abigail Ann Young at Friday, 25 August 2006 at 1:35pm BST

Bishop Duncan has replied to the ROC, pointing out that several of the relevant USA dioceses ordain women:

http://www.pgh.anglican.org/news/local/filesforposting/ToMetropolitanKirillENGLISH082506.pdf

Posted by DGus at Friday, 25 August 2006 at 4:41pm BST

"Inculturation happens to all of us at different rates and in all churches....."

True enough. It used to be the case that giving women anything to relieve pain during childbirth was forbidden as trying to negate God's curse on Eve.

I wonder if anyone has done a study - maybe anthropology - about how different cultures rationalize what is at base a 'that's yucky' emotional response into something else - a religious or a legal taboo of some kind. I suspect that a certain amount of 'rational' and 'religious' stricture against gays really comes from a 'that's yucky' response to particular sex acts [some of which are, of course, not 'yucky' when practiced by hetero couples]. I suppose I could do a Google search for 'yucky' ...! Happy weekend, all! Time for a little gin.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Friday, 25 August 2006 at 9:38pm BST

>> The Church's involvement in the recent misery in the Balkans is a prime example of the "phyletism" that plagues the East.

The recent misery in the Balkans involved Catholics, Orthodox, and Muslims, as well as communist atheists.

Posted by Dienekes at Saturday, 26 August 2006 at 1:33am BST

The recent misery in the Balkans also involved Western ambitions in the area- political and economic. A greater reticence on the part of Orthodoxy towards capitalism or the free market economy as it has developed in the West (Florence and Geneva) may have led to strategists seeking to undermine its influence (corridors or stepping stones purged of Orthodox dominance). Phyletism is inexcusable but not characteristic of Orthodoxy everywhere- the Antiochene Patriarchate and Georgia seem free of it.

Posted by clive sweeting at Saturday, 26 August 2006 at 11:03am BST

"The recent misery in the Balkans involved Catholics, Orthodox, and Muslims, as well as communist atheists."

True. So, they're all alike, then. Orthodoxy is no different in this regard. So, we're agreed, then.

Posted by Ford Elms at Saturday, 26 August 2006 at 12:39pm BST

I see that Bishop Duncan, in his response, asked the relevant question: how would Russia welcome those dioceses in the Network, or for that matter in AMiA (after all, Duncan has always had a pretty broad sense of what "Pittsburgh leads") that do not oppose ordination of women?

I know the language is "ecumenical relations." If one were to take this not too much farther, and discuss full communion, wouldn't that clearly be an example of "leaving the communion of this church?" After all, no Eastern Orthodox body, Greek, Russian, or otherwise, recognizes Anglican orders as full.

Posted by Marshall Scott at Saturday, 26 August 2006 at 2:14pm BST

>> True. So, they're all alike, then. Orthodoxy is no different in this regard. So, we're agreed, then.

The Orthodox church condemns phyletism and has done so long before the recent conflict in the Balkans. Of course, people do not always do what is right. But, to say that "Orthodoxy is no different" is to equate the Orthodox Church with the actions of some of its adherents. Orthodoxy is not defined by the sins of its adherents, but by the truth of its doctrines and sacramental life.

Posted by Dienekes at Sunday, 27 August 2006 at 10:43pm BST

"Orthodoxy is not defined by the sins of its adherents, but by the truth of its doctrines and sacramental life."

It's not defined by the sins of its adherents . . . but it's not truly separate from the sins of its adherents, either ("wheat and tares together" or the "weakness of the members of the Body": take your Biblical analogical pick!).

Including the sin, I might add, of (Eastern) Orthodox members claiming *exclusive Truth* (or, as similarly sinful Romans put it, "the fullness of Truth").

How any group of sinful human beings can claim that their group has sole possession of Truth (everyone else having no more than mere crumbs) is something I'll never understand! (And, needless to say, it's unsupported by Scripture).

As Anglicanism becomes more curial, more heirarchical/patriarchal, I fear we're going down this same dead end...

Lord have mercy!

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Monday, 28 August 2006 at 12:07am BST

Thats why ECUSA must have the courage to tell Williams that they do not wish to walk with him and will form a new denomination.

I hope the Global south does take a hard line - anything which leads to a split is the best way forward.

Posted by Merseymike at Monday, 28 August 2006 at 11:58am BST

In reply to the penultimate contributor, I was recently astonished by a passage in Tertullian (De Praescriptione Haereticorum cap.9) clearly forbidding continuing to search for truth when one had attained it. For this writer at least there is a cut-off point in this process.Early Christianity did not continually make allowances for others' perceptions in the matter.
I am not sure to what extent or in which respects sinfulness clouds one's grasp of truth. The Devil is renowned not only for his musicological skills but also for his unrivalled knowledge of theology!

Posted by clive sweeting at Monday, 28 August 2006 at 1:57pm BST

Choosing, between Closed Certainties vs Nubile Nihilisms in every conceivable domain, is for college sophomores, if that. Until they take the next semester's classes.

Can we try that again?

The folks who are shoving hardest, as well as the folks who are funding that shoving, are also the ones who keep noticing that other people are walking apart. The harder everybody gets shoved, the more people seem to be walking apart. The folks in New Hampshire were not walking apart; they were electing a good bishop from among their candidates, as prayerfully and as transparently as they knew how to do within the canons.

So far I am still hearing that: A conservative purge is in order, and the sooner the better. Because per conservative definitions, agreeing to disagree is evil. (Especially if sex is involved.) And not to be known among followers of Jesus of Nazareth.

Alas. Lord have mercy.

Posted by drdanfee at Tuesday, 29 August 2006 at 3:39pm BST

I laughed when I read the letter from Moscow, it's one of the finest ecclesiastical cock-ups I've seen in years! It'll take some beating!!

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Tuesday, 29 August 2006 at 11:21pm BST
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