The Voice Of The Church Must Be Prophetic

hilarion-sittingMore light from the East.

Source: World Council of Churches

Address by Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk,
Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate,
At the 10th Assembly of the World Council of Churches

Busan, the Republic of Korea, 1 November 2013

Your Holinesses and Beatitudes, Your Eminences and Graces, dear brothers and sisters, esteemed delegates of the Assembly,

The World Council of Churches has a long and rich history. Set up after the Second World War, the Council responded to the expectations of Christians of various confessions who strove to meet, to get to know each other and to work together. Over the sixty five years since the founding of the WCC, several generations of Christians belonging to religious communities that were cut off from each other have discovered for themselves the faith and life of their brothers and sisters in Christ. Many prejudices regarding other Christian traditions have been overcome, yet at the same time that which divides Christians to the present has been acknowledged ever more clearly and deeply. The greatest achievement of the Council has been those encounters, that well intentioned and mutual respectful inter-Christian communication, which has never allowed for compromises in the field of theology and morality and which has enabled us to remain true to ourselves and to bear witness to our faith, while at the same time growing in love for each other.

The World Council of Churches today remains a unique instrument of inter-Christian cooperation that has no analogy in the world. However, the question arises as to how effective this instrument is. We must note with some regret that, in spite of all of the efforts aimed at bringing Christians of various confessions closer to each other, within Christendom not only are the divisions of the past not disappearing, but new ones are arising. Many Christian communities continue to split up, whereas the number of communities that unite with one another is extremely small.

One of the problems which the WCC is encountering today is that of finances. It is said that it is connected with the world economic crisis. I cannot agree with this opinion. The experience of other international organizations, whose work is of general benefit and therefore needed, has shown that funding can often be found for noble goals. This means that the problem is not the economic crisis, but how relevant and important is the work of the WCC for today’s international community, which is made up to a significant degree by, and at times, a majority of Christians.

The creation of the WCC was determined by the endeavour to find answers to the challenges of the post-War period. Yet in recent years the world has changed greatly, and today Christians from all over the world are facing new challenges. It is precisely upon how successfully we respond to these challenges that the need for our organization in the future depends. The contemporary situation demands from us more decisive action, greater cohesion and more dynamism. And yet it also demands a re-orientation of the basic direction of our work, a change in priorities in our discussions and deeds. While we continue to discuss our differences in the comfortable atmosphere of conferences and theological dialogues, the question resounds ever more resolutely: will Christian civilization survive at all?

In my address I would like to focus on two fundamental challenges which the Christian world today faces in varying degrees. The first is that of the militant secularism which is gathering strength in the so called developed countries, primarily in Europe and America. The second is that of radical Islamism that poses a threat to the very existence of Christianity in a number of regions of the world, mainly in the Middle East, but also in some parts of Asia and Africa.

Militant secularism in Europe has a long history going back to the period of the French revolution. But it is only in the twentieth century in the countries of the so called socialist bloc that godlessness was elevated to the level of state ideology. As regards the so called capitalist countries, they preserved to a significant degree the Christian traditions which shaped their cultural and moral identity.

Today these two worlds appear to have changed roles. In the countries of the former Soviet Union, in particular in Russia, Ukraine, Belorussia and Moldavia, an unprecedented religious revival is underway. In the Russian Orthodox Church over the past twenty five years there have been built or restored from ruins more than twenty five thousand churches. This means that a thousand churches a year have been opened, i.e. three churches a day. More than fifty theological institutes and eight hundred monasteries, each full with monks and nuns, have been opened.

In Western European countries we can observe the steady decline of the numbers of parishioners, a crisis in vocations, and monasteries and churches are being closed. The anti-Christian rhetoric of many politicians and statesmen becomes all the more open as they call for the total expulsion of religion from public life and the rejection of the basic moral norms common to all religious traditions.

The battle between the religious and secular worldview is today raging not in academic auditoriums or on the pages of newspapers. And the subject of the conflict is far from being exhausted by the question of belief or lack of belief in God. Today this clash has entered a new dimension and touches upon the fundamental aspects of the everyday life of the human person.

Militant secularism is aimed not only at religious holy sites and symbols by demanding that they be removed from the public domain. One of the main directions of its activity today is the straightforward destruction of traditional notions of marriage and the family. This is witnessed by the new phenomenon of equating homosexual unions with marriage and allowing single-sex couples to adopt children. From the point of view of biblical teaching and traditional Christian moral values, this testifies to a profound spiritual crisis. The religious understanding of sin has been conclusively eroded in societies that until recently thought of themselves as Christian.

Particularly alarming is the fact that we are dealing in this instance not only with a choice of ethics and worldview. Under the pretext of combating discrimination, a number of countries have introduced changes in family legislation. Over the past few years single-sex cohabitation has been legalized in a number of states in the USA, a number of Latin American countries and in New Zealand. This year homosexual unions have attained the legal status of ‘marriage’ in England and Wales and in France.

We have to state clearly that those countries that have recognized in law homosexual unions as one of the forms of marriage are taking a serious step towards the destruction of the very concept of marriage and the family. And this is happening in a situation where in many historically Christian countries the traditional family is enduring a serious crisis: the number of divorces is growing, the birthrate is declining catastrophically, the culture of a family upbringing is degraded, not to mention the prevalence of sexual relations outside of marriage, the increase in the number of abortions and the increase of children brought up without parents, even if those parents are still alive.

Instead of encouraging by all means possible traditional family values and supporting childbirth not only materially but also spiritually, the justification of the legitimacy of ‘single-sex families’ who bring up children has become the centre of public attention. As a result, the traditional social roles are eroded and swapped around. The notion of parents, i.e. of the father and the mother, of what is male and what is female, is radically altered. The female mother is losing her time-honoured role as guardian of the domestic hearth, while the male father is losing his role as educator of his children in being socially responsible. The family in its Christian understanding is falling apart to be replaced by such impersonal terms as ‘parent number one’ and parent number two’.

All of this cannot but have the most disastrous consequences for the upbringing of children. Children who are brought up in families with ‘two fathers’ or ‘two mothers’ will already have views on social and ethical values different from their contemporaries from traditional families.

One of the direct consequences of the radical reinterpretation of the concept of marriage is the serious demographic crisis which will only grow if these approaches are adhered to. Those politicians who are pushing the countries of the civilized world into the demographic abyss are in essence pronouncing upon their peoples a death sentence.

What is to be the response of the Christian Churches? I believe deeply this response can be none other than that which is based on Divine Revelation as handed down to us in the Bible. Scripture is the common foundation which unites all Christian confessions. We may have significant differences in the interpretation of Scripture, but we all possess the same Bible and its moral teaching is laid out quite unambiguously. Of course, we differ in the interpretation of certain biblical texts when they allow for a varied interpretation. Yet much in the Bible is stated quite unambiguously, namely that which proceeds from the mouth of God and retains its relevance for all subsequent ages. Among these divine sayings are many moral commandments, including those which concern family ethics.

In speaking out against all forms of discrimination, the Church nonetheless must vindicate the traditional Christian understanding of marriage as between a man and a woman, the most important mission of which is the birth and upbringing of children. It is precisely this understanding of marriage that we find on the pages of the Bible in the story of the first human family. This same understanding of marriage we also find in the Gospels and the apostolic epistles. The Bible does not know of any alternative forms of marriage.

Unfortunately, not all Christian Churches today find within themselves the courage and resolve to vindicate the biblical ideals by going against that which is fashionable and the prevalent secular outlook. Some Christian communities have long ago embarked on a revision of moral teaching aimed at making it more in step with modern tendencies.

It is often said that the differences in theological and ethical problems are linked to the division of Christians into conservatives and liberals. One cannot but agree with this when we see how in a number of Christian communities a headlong liberalization is occurring in religious ethics, as a rule under the influence of processes taking place in secular society. At the same time the witness of the Orthodox Churches should not be reduced to that of conservatism. The faith of the Ancient Church which we Orthodox confess is impossible to define from the standpoint of conservatism and liberalism. We confess Christ’s truth which is immutable, for ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and for ever’ (Heb. 3:8).

We are not speaking about conservatism but of fidelity to Divine Revelation which is contained in Scripture. And if the so called liberal Christians reject the traditional Christian understanding of moral norms, then this means that we are running up against a serious problem in our common Christian witness. Are we able to bear this witness if we are so deeply divided in questions of moral teaching, which are as important for salvation as dogma?

In this regard I would like to speak about the Church’s prophetic vocation. I recall the words of Fr. Alexander Schmemann who said that a prophet is far from being someone who foretells the future. In reminding us of the profound meaning of prophecy, Schmemann wrote: ‘The essence of prophecy is in the gift of proclaiming to people God’s will, which is hidden from human sight but revealed to the spiritual vision of the prophet’ (Schmemann, The Celebration of Faith, vol.1: I Believe…, p.112).

We often speak of the prophetic voice of the Churches, yet does our voice actually differ much from the voice and rhetoric of the secular mass media and non-governmental organizations? Is not one of the most important tasks of the WCC to discern the will of God in the modern-day historical setting and proclaim it to the world? This message, of course, would be hard to swallow for the powerful of this world. However, in refusing to proclaim it, we betray our vocation and in the final run we betray Christ.

In today’s context, when in many countries and regions of the world the revival of religion is underway and yet at the same time aggressive secularism and ideological atheism is raising its head, the World Council of Churches must find its own special voice that is understandable to modern-day societies and yet which proclaims the permanent truths of the Christian faith. Today, as always, we are called upon to be messengers of the Word of God, the Word which is ‘quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword’ (Heb. 4: 12); the Word which is not bound (2 Tim. 2: 9). It is only then that we can bring to Christ new souls, in spite of the resistance of the ‘rulers of the darkness of this world’ (Eph. 6: 12).

Allow me to speak now of the second global challenge for the entire Christian world, the challenge of radicalism on religious grounds, in particular radical Islamism. I use this term fully aware that Islamism is in no way identical to Islam and in many ways is the opposite of it. Islam is a religion of peace able to coexistence with other religious traditions, as is demonstrated, for example, by the centuries-old experience of peaceful coexistence between Christians and Muslims in Russia. Radical Islamism, known as Wahhabism or Salafism, is a movement within the Islamic world that has as its goal the establishment of a worldwide Caliphate in which there is no place for Christians.

Here I shall not go into the reasons for the appearance and rapid growth of this phenomenon. I shall say only that in recent years the persecution of Christians has assumed a colossal scale. According to the information of human rights organizations, every five minutes a Christian dies for his faith in one or another part of the world, and every year more than a hundred thousand Christians die a violent death. According to published data, no less than one hundred million Christians worldwide are now subject to discrimination and persecution. Information on the oppression of Christians comes in from Iraq, Syria, Egypt, North Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan and a number of other countries. Our brothers and sisters are being killed, driven from their homes and separated from their families and loved ones; they are denied the right to practice their faith and educate their children according to their religious beliefs. Christians are the most persecuted religious community on the planet.

Unfortunately, manifestations of discrimination with regard to the Christian minority can no longer be treated as separate incidents: in some regions of the world they have become a well established tendency. As a result of the continuing conflict in Syria the number of murders of Christians has increased, churches and holy sites have been destroyed. The Copts, the original inhabitants of Egypt, have today become a target for attacks and riots, and many have been forced to abandon their own country.

Radicalism on religious grounds is growing not only in the countries where the population is predominantly Muslim. It is important to draw attention to the situation in the area of Asia where today’s Assembly is taking place. In this region the Christian communities for more than three hundred years, thanks to the efforts of missionaries, have grown and developed. According to data by the experts, over the past ten years the level of discrimination of Christians in the region has increased many times over. Great anxiety is caused by the position of the Christian communities of Indonesia, where over the past two years the level of aggression aimed at Christians has increased considerably. Information on the discrimination of Christians is coming in from other Asian countries too.

Today we have to be aware that one of the most important tasks facing us is the defense of our persecuted brothers and sisters in various areas of the world. This task demands urgent resolve for which we must employ all possible means and levers—diplomatic, humanitarian, economic and so on. The topic of the persecution of Christians ought to be examined in the context of inter-Christian cooperation. It is only through common energetic endeavours that we can help our suffering brothers and sisters in Christ.

Much is done in this regard today by the Roman Catholic Church. There are Christian organizations that monitor the situation and collect charitable aid for suffering Christians. Our Church also participates in this work. I believe that of much benefit would be joint conferences and the exchange of information and experience between Christian human rights organizations that are pursuing this problem.

The rights of Christians can be guaranteed only by supporting dialogue between religious communities at both the inter-state and international level. Therefore, one of the important directions of the WCC’s work is inter-religious dialogue. I believe that we ought to pay more attention to the development of a deep and interested mutual inter-action with traditional religions, especially with Islam.

The World Council of Churches is already working to draw attention to the problem of the persecution of Christians. As an example I can quote the Christian-Muslim consultation on the topic of the Christians presence and witness in the Arab world, organized by the WCC in January 2012 in Lebanon, as well as the conference held there in May of this year on the persecution of Christians, in which the General Secretary of the WCC participated. I would also like to remark upon the work carried out by the Council with the aim of reducing the level of tension in Syria, of averting an escalation of the conflict and of not allowing external military intervention.

Addressing those who confessed Christianity St Peter said: ‘But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy’ (1 Pet. 4: 13). Recalling these words, we prayerfully desire that the All-Merciful Lord shall grant comfort and joy to those afflicted and oppressed so that they, in feeling the help and compassion of those brothers and sisters who are far away geographically yet close in the faith, may find in themselves the strength, with the aid of the grace of God, to travel further down the path of steadfast faith.

In concluding my speech, I would like to thank from the bottom of my heart the Christian communities of South Korea for the hospitality that they have shown us and the excellent organization of this General Assembly. The Russian Orthodox Church sympathizes with the Korean people in its striving to find unity, and in prayer and in deeds supports the processes for the overcoming of tension in relations between the two countries of the Korean peninsula.

To all of you, the participants of the Assembly, I enjoin the aid of God in joint labours and those labours which each of us carry out in their churches and communities. May our witness become the word of truth which the world needs so much today.


  1. I have great esteem for Metropolitan Hilarion, but I sincerely wish the Orthodox Church had never become involved in the World Council of Churches. Yes, it affords an opportunity to witness prophetically to the other members, as Metropolitan Hilarion does here, but it is otherwise an ongoing counterwitness, relativizing us and bolstering the others.

    • Brian McDonald says

      I fear the Metropolitan’s words, especially the first half of his message, will fall–as is the usual case with prophetic words–on deaf, or rather, stopped ears.

  2. From Orthodox Information Center says

    Ultimate Problems in Church Unity By Protopresbyter Georges Florovsky

    In the year 1833, Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow published a small but important book, under the lengthy title, A Conversation Between a Seeker and a Believer Concerning the Orthodoxy of the Eastern Greco-Russian Church. The primary objective of the book was to dissuade people from going over to Rome. But the spirit of the book was truly ecumenical: “I do not propose to call false any church which does believe that Jesus is the Christ.” A Christian church can only be either purely true, professing the true and saving Divine teaching without false admixtures and the pernicious opinions of men, or not purely true, mixing with the true and saving teaching what is not pure. The phrasing is rather unfortunate, and the term “church” is used in the large and vague sense. But the thought is plain and clear. In the concluding conversation, Philaret resumes that thought: “You expect now that I should give judgment concerning the other half of present Christianity, but I just simply look upon them; in part, I see how the Head and Lord of the Church heals the many deep wounds of the old serpent in all the parts and limbs of this body, applying now gentle, now strong, remedies, even fire and iron, in order to soften hardness, to draw out poison, to clean wounds, to separate out malignant growths, to restore spirit and life in the half-dead and numbed structures. In such wise, I attest my faith that in the end the power of God patently will triumph over human weakness, good over evil, life over death” (p. 135). The language is heavy and old-fashioned, but the wide embrace of the ecumenical vision is obvious. Philaret had a comprehensive view of Christendom.

    On the other hand, knowledge of the Christian West was very limited in his time in the Russian Church. The situation was peculiar. Western influence was considerable in Orthodox theology from the seventeenth century, both in the Near East and in Russia. Not seldom, Western manuals were directly used in Orthodox schools, in a rather promiscuous and eclectic manner, Roman and Protestant together. One may even speak of a certain Western “pseudo-morphosis” of Orthodox theology.1 And yet there was no real “encounter” with the West. Influence and imitation are not yet “encounter.” The study of the West in the East was limited to the needs of polemics and refutation. Western weapons were used to fight the West. Apart from the polemical literature, one does not find anything important in the field of “comparative theology” or “symbolics.” These terms were not used at that time. The most conspicuous contribution to the field were the essays of Khomiakov, and they also were polemically minded. It must be noted, however, that in spite of his strong polemical emphasis and sharp discrimination, Khomiakov was committed to the large view of Christian Unity. The West was for him still “a land of holy miracles,” and not only in the past. The break of unity was for him the major tragedy of Christian history. The West was for him an estranged world, but not a foreign world. He could find a common ground with William Palmer, rigid as he may have been in his epistolary conversation.

    The problem of Christian Reunion was formally raised in Russia by Vladimir Solovyov. His main concern was with the “Great Controversy,” that is, with the schism between East and West. Solovyov firmly believed in the unity of the Church in spite of the schism. He had little interest in the Protestant world, except in his late years, and then from an apocalyptic perspective. In his affirmation of the existing unity between East and West, Solovyov went obviously too far and could not fail to provoke anxiety and apprehensions on both sides. There was a heavy admixture of fantasy, impatience, and wishful thinking in his conception. His analysis was often hasty and rather superficial. His knowledge of the Catholic West was strangely limited and highly selective. He was always more interested in theocracy than in theology proper. He paid little attention, if any, to the theological tensions between East and West. He had but one concern: unity. On the whole, Solovyovs interpretation of the historic “Separation” between the Eastern and Western churches was very much the same as that theory of “branches” of the Church Catholic to which Newman was committed in the Anglican period of his search. “Separation,” according to this conception, was no more than an historic estrangement, a canonical break, an interruption of visible communion and communication—a loss of mutual acknowledgment and recognition. The Catholic structure of the Church was not vitiated by this estrangement. The way toward unity is, accordingly, the way of mutual recognition. This was precisely the program of Solovyov. It does not seem that Solovyov had ever studied any Tractarian literature, although he must have been well acquainted with William Palmers story and search. Solovyov firmly believed that Orthodoxy and Rome were essentially the same Church. Only the outward manifestation of unity was inadequate and incomplete. No Orthodox Christian could go over to Rome, according to this scheme, simply because he was already there, implicitly, without acknowledging it.

    All of the objections which have been raised against the Anglican “branch theory,” both from the Roman and from the Orthodox point of view, are valid also against Solovyov. Moreover, Solovyov did not succeed in disengaging the problem of Christian unity from the narrow sociological and political setting in which it had been discussed for a long time. He was not quite consistent at this point. It is true, indeed, that he put up the problem of Christian unity as a strictly ecclesiological problem. But his own ecclesiology was lacking in issue. Christian reunion was, for him, first of all—if not exclusively—a “political” endeavor, a problem of “Christian politics,” that typical term of his. He discussed the problem of reunion as a peculiar Slavic or Russian problem, and in this respect he never overcame the Slavophile bias to which he was wholeheartedly committed in his early period. Only in his last years did Solovyov partially liberate himself from his earlier utopian dreams. The reunion of all Christians became an eschatological expectation, beyond the limits of history. By this time, it was a reunion of the three major branches of divided Christendom. It seems that, now, Solovyov was influenced by Schelling and Jung-Stilling. On the whole, the impact of Solovyov was ambiguous and ambivalent; he both stimulated and inhibited “ecumenical thinking” in Russia. He could not fail to provoke protest and resistance. His thought was often misunderstood and misinterpreted. He misled some enthusiasts who were addicted to the most utopian aspects of his thought. Solovyov sorely underestimated the real depth of tension between the two traditions and could not, therefore, initiate any genuine conversation between the separated partners in the common quest. He did not help the West to grasp the deepest ethos of the Christian East, and his zealous followers in Russia did even more harm in this respect. Nor did he help the Russians to appreciate the treasures of the [pre-Schism] Western tradition, in worship and spirituality, in Christian philosophy, and in other fields, of which he probably was not fully aware himself. He gave a shock to Russian thought, but not an impulse or guidance. [2]

    Two particular ecumenical themes were discussed in Russian theological circles in the later decades of the last century. The first was posited by the Los von Rom movements in the West, and especially by the Old Catholic movement. Some Orthodox theologians, mainly Russian, were involved in the dialogue at the reunion conferences at Bonn in the 1870s. Discussion on the ecclesiastical status of the Old Catholic Church was resumed in the 90s and carried on without much progress. Comparatively more fruitful was the discussion of the Filioque clause. No “existential” rapprochement ever took place between the Orthodox and Old Catholics. The second theme of ecumenical significance was connected with the relations between the churches of the Anglican Communion and the Orthodox. There was a long tradition of such contacts. However, they were sporadic and had no wider ecclesiological resonance. [3]

    The method employed in these conversations was a composite of “controversy” and “concordance.” It was a kind of exercise in “comparative theology,” registering agreements and disagreements, with the hope that sufficient “agreement” might be reached on the essentials, in order to make mutual recognition possible. There was no deeper experience of unity and both partners in the conversations were mainly concerned with the retention of their actual historic traditions, in spite of persistent reference to the norms of the “undivided Church” [preserved in the Orthodox Church]. Apparently, beyond mutual recognition of a formal character, nothing was discovered that was not expected: disagreement which could be ultimately traced to the basic divergence of Eastern and Western tradition. The Western partners were hesitant about many points of Eastern tradition which, in any case, could not be isolated one from the other. This could not but create uneasiness on the Orthodox side. The fence had not yet been broken; conversations were conducted, as it were, over the fence. This fence was not simply that of historical estrangement. One could not avoid the problem of “schism.” Obviously, “schism” is not just a human separation; it affects also the basic structure of Christian existence.

    There may be some partial truth in the contention of the “branch theory” that historic estrangement does not destroy Christian unity completely, insofar as certain substantial similarities are preserved in the realm of doctrine, devotional practices, or canonical arrangements. But all these links have but an abstract character; they are just “detached principles” which do not secure any real communion in being. Are “schisms” still an integral part of the Church universal? In the case of Old Catholics, the question was raised on the Orthodox side as to whether they could simply be “recognized as Orthodox” on the basis of some satisfactory statement of faith, or whether they had to be formally “received” into the Church. There was a vigorous clash of opinions among Russian theologians at this point. It has been strongly contended by some influential theologians that all non-Orthodox Christians are actually “outside of the Church,” in the full sense of this word. Whatever weight this contention may have—and obviously it needs careful and accurate qualification—, it is obvious that pure “agreement in faith” does not, by itself, constitute “unity in the Church.” “Doctrinal agreement” alone does not suffice. “Membership in the Body” is the decisive feature. On the other hand, even this statement may be made in an abstract and formal way; the terms of “membership” may be formalized, and divorced from “the faith.” It is spiritually unsound to be satisfied with comprehensive “excommunication.” The ultimate problem thus escapes attention. [4]

    1. See my article, “Westliche Einflusse in der Russischen Theologie,” in Kyrios, II.I (1937), and also in the Comptes Rendus of the First Congress of Orthodox Theologians in Athens (Athens, 1938); in the latter work, there is an article by the late Archbishop Chrysostomos (Papadopoulos) on Western influences in Greek theology.

    2. Solovyovs views and attitudes were variously interpreted, and there is no real agreement between the students of his life and thought on many basic issues. His theological ideas need a new and impartial study, and I hope to attempt a reinterpretive essay in the near future.

    3. Cf. my article, “LOecuménisme au XIX-e sicle,” in Irnikon, Vol. XXVII, Nos. 3 & 4 (1954), pp. 241-274, 407-447; English text in St. Vladimirs Seminary Quarterly, Vol. IV, Nos. 3 & 4 (1956). See also the informative article by the late Dom Clement Lialine, O.S.B., “Vieux-catholiques et Orthodoxes en qute dunion depuis trois quarts de sicle,” in Istina, I (1958), pp. 22-64.

    4. Cf. my article, “The Limits of the Church,” in Church Quarterly Review, No. 233 (October 1933), pp. 117-131; also, “The Doctrine of the Church and the Ecumenical Problem,” in The Ecumenical Review, 2 (1950), pp. 152-161, and “LOecuménisme,” in Irénikon, Vol. XXVII, No. 4, pp. 441 ff.

    From Orthodox Tradition, Vol. XVII, No. 1 (2000).

    also see

  3. Justin Tyme says

    + Hilarion is wrong. Just not Orthodox.

    Russian Orthodox Church urges not to baptize infants born to surrogate mothers

    Publication time: 16 November 2013, 13:12
    Last updated: November 16, 2013, 13:12

    Russian Orthodox Church urges not to baptize infants born to surrogate mothers
    The Church must abandon the baptism of infants born as a result of the so-called surrogate motherhood, as this practice from the point of view of the Christian faith is not acceptable, the baptism of the child should be deferred until they reach the age of reason, says the head of the Department for External Church Relations (DECR) of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan of Volokolamsk Hilarion.

    Speaking at a meeting of the Enlarged Bureau of the Synodal Biblical-Theological Commission, Metropolitan Hilarion said that “any interference in the process of childbirth is a natural union of husband and wife contrary to the Christian understanding of the mysteries of birth and the birth of bogoobraznoy the human person, as well as an understanding of the dignity and vocation of man and women who have a God-commanded marriage, “reports RIA “Novosti” .

    However, as the head of OVSTS, the question of pastoral practice with regard to the relationship to the “biological parents” as well as the baptism of infants born to a surrogate mother, is highly ambiguous.

    “On the one hand, anyone born baby can be baptized – the faith of those who intend to baptize him. Himself baby does not carry the blame for the way his birth into the world. On the other hand, the responsibility for the Christian education of the baby bear parents and godfather “- said Hilarion.

    He added that “if the parents do not bring apparent repentance to the crime, and the recipients of the very fact of its participation in the sacrament concur with the accomplished sinful act”, then on subsequent Christian education of children speech, accordingly, can not go.

    “Does not it in this case, to postpone the baptism of the child until they reach the age of reason? Denial of infant baptism in such a case would have a primarily pastoral importance, since thereby the society would have received from the Church a clear signal that the practice of surrogacy is not acceptable from a Christian perspective “- the Metropolitan said.

    • Mchael Kinsey says

      I do not know if + Hilarion is wrong, if this is his dictate. But the child is as innocent as an unborn child conceived by rape, murder by abortion for this reason is wrong. For the same reason, the child’s innocence, the child’s soul should not be risked, to show punishment to surrogate parents, and show disapproval by the church. The church’s disapprove is quite valid, but another means to communicate disapproval is warranted. I feel the church will be quite able to find a means to communicate it’s disapproval. It has 2.000 years of experience.

  4. Mchael Kinsey says

    The writer, writes with confidence that only comes from knowing the Truth. He does not mention ecumenism, while mentioning dialogue with other world religions. It appears it is not a necessary concern to his mind. As it should be, with men of true FAITH IN Jesus Christ. I had the same feeling I had when I read the writing of St Cryil of Jerusalem., who was a Holy Father, I knew I could trust. If this is true, this is indeed the man needful, who does enter into dialogue with the Horus/Isis temp-let religions. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity is in safe hands, Glory be to God. I am pleases to say, he may speak for me. as I agree with this address.

  5. Well, the problem of translation from Russian is clearly on display above. Makes you wonder what was actually written and/or said.

  6. The cross , which is today one of the most widely recognised symbols in the world, was used as a Christian symbol from the earliest times.

  7. Michael Bauman says

    Indeed it is a wonderful video. Thank you for sharing it. It would be good for all to see it and get the book: Washed and Waiting.

    The struggle for chastity, celibacy and faithfulness in this age is difficult for most regardless of what form of desire attacks us.