Hilarion: Russia and European Christians for the Salvation of the Continent
The "Foreign Minister" of the Moscow Patriarchate points to the religious crisis of the old continent. With migrations and secularism, Europe is heading towards the total suicide of its identity. The responsibilities of intellectuals. "The present weakening of Christianity in the Western world recalls the situation of the Russian Empire before 1917." In Russia, only 13% declare themselves atheist and non-believers. Unite church efforts.
Moscow (AsiaNews) - On 22 September, Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeev), the "Foreign Minister" of the Moscow Patriarchate, delivered an important speech at a conference organized by the Russian Embassy in London in front of diplomats, politicians, entrepreneurs and exponents of the major religious confessions.
The Metropolitan’s address developed the main theses that have marked the positions of the Russian Orthodox Church in recent years, especially Patriarch Kirill’s (Gundjaev), calls to Europe and the West. These are the positions which largely inspired President Putin's policy, at least in terms of the ethical aspects of relations between Russia and the superpowers of the globalized world.
The speech focused on the future of Europe, and in particular on the conditions of Christianity in the old continent. According to Hilarion, who cited several recent statistics, Christianity today is the most persecuted religion in the world, and also faces new challenges that question the "moral foundations of people's lives, their faith, and their values."
Migration and secularization
Among these challenges, which are "changing the ethical and religious landscape of Europe", is first and foremost the migration crisis seen as the most serious and impressive in numerical terms since the end of World War II, caused by "military conflicts and economic problems in the Middle East ".
The Russian prelate cited the official data of the Frontex agency, according to which 1.8 million migrants arrived in the European Union alone; according to the UN, the number of migrants in European countries increased from 49.3 million in 2000 to 76.1 million in 2015. Again referring to the studies of the UN organization for migration around the world, 1.3% of the adult population (66 million people) are planning to move definitively from their country mainly towards to the most affluent European nations.
Along with this data, the metropolitan focused on what he considers to be the main problem of the continent: the "secularization of European society". Again citing various sources and statistical studies, he pointed out that as far as Britain is concerned, more than half of the citizens claim they do not follow any religion, and a similar percentage can be reported in many other Western European countries. In the eastern part of the continent, and in Russia in particular, the percentages show the opposite trend: According to the Levada center, one of Russia's largest research institutes, atheists and non-believers in the country have dropped from 26% in 2015 to 13% in 2017. The remaining 87%, although it cannot be cataloged as a group that practices religion, remain "under the influence of one of the traditional confessions", while the number of those who describe themselves as " very religious" is growing.
Fleeing from Faith
Recalling the centenary of the Bolshevik Revolution, the head of the Department for Foreign Relations of the Patriarchate said that the catastrophe of 1917 had "destroyed the best categories of the population: the nobles, the Cossacks, the clergy, the wealthy landowners ... the Church counted in those years a great number of martyrs and witnesses to the faith. " Comparing today's times with the conditions of Russia in the revolutionary period, Hilarion stated that "the present weakening of Christianity in the Western world recalls the situation of the Russian empire before 1917," when over the course several years it was observed that there was "an abandonment of the faith by the aristocracy and intelligentsia, followed by that of much of the population. " It is the evaluation of the same Patriarch Kirill, who in recent interventions has attributed the major responsibility of revolutionary tragedy to the sins of the Russian intellectual and social elite.
After the wars of the world that have overthrown the geography and institutions of the European continent, Hilarion continued, the West tried to stop the expansion of atheist propaganda and communist ideology, led mainly by the Catholic Church: "The Vatican based its anti-communist struggle on European unity, thanks to the action of the Christian-democratic parties of Western Europe ... Pope Pius XII supported the creation of a European Community as a historic mission of Christian Europe. "
The suicide of Christian identity
Recalling the founders of united Europe, such as Schumann, Adenauer and De Gasperi, the Russian bishop remarked that their inspiration was subsequently completely disregard, to the point that Christian roots of Europe was completed negated in the same constitutive documents. Today, in his opinion, "the monopoly of the secular idea has affirmed itself in contemporary Europe. Its manifestation is the discrimination of religious vision in the social sphere. " On the ethical issues of the family, the defense of life and the natural conception of sexual orientation, according to Hilarion, Europe is beginning to commit suicide of its own identity, moving towards a demographic and social crisis: "Other peoples will live in Europe in the future, with other faiths, other cultures, and other paradigms of values . " The cause of all this is the extravagance of liberal ideology, which leads to the exclusion of religion in favor of "the realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms in all fields of civil, economic, political, social and cultural life" .
Concluding his speech, metropolitan Hilarion appealed for a united effort by Churches to counter the definitive disappearance of Christian Europe: "In the current conditions of oppression by power groups that propose ideas incompatible with the traditional views of Christian morality, it is indispensable to unite Church efforts to counter these processes, to act together in the field of information and legal support, and in the propagation of common Christian values at all levels ... Christians in Europe must strive to defend their values on which the continent has been built for centuries, and listen to the lamentations and sufferings of Christians from all over the globe, feeling them theirs. "
Holy Russia, in which Christianity is re-emerging, therefore feels not only part of Europe but again called to lead a mission of salvation on the continent and on the whole world.