02/12/2016, 11.34
RUSSIA - VATICAN
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Francis and Kirill, the "alliance against" and the desire for unity (II)

by Ieromonaco Ioann

The meeting at the airport of Havana is a "fleeting encounter" for fear of negative reactions of the orthodox conservatives. Although political reasons seem to prevail ( "alliance against" terrorism, secularism, moral relativism, Islam, liberalism, Protestants, ...), the event is a step on the path towards full unity between Catholics and Orthodox. The second part of an article by a leading figure of the Moscow Patriarchate.

 

Moscow (AsiaNews) - The meeting between Patriarch Kirill and Pope Francis in a few hours in Cuba, although of historic proportions, is a little like a "fleeting encounter" given that it was announced and implemented in a matter of a week, at an airport outside Rome and Moscow. This "minimalism" is undoubtedly due to the Patriarchate’s fears of backlash from the more conservative Orthodox wing.

We can not say that such fears are unfounded. The reactions of the traditionalist Orthodox press and nationalist sites are quite negative, whereas the Russian secular public opinion seems to view the meeting favorably. Certainly the patriarch can not ignore the danger of internal discontent in the Church, if not schism. Prudence, therefore, explains the choice of location, the haste in its realization and its modalities, that being the completely secular nature of the encounter’s format.

The reasons why the Russian Church has accepted the meeting, repeatedly proposed by the Holy See, are different, and as already mentioned, they are strongly  "reactive" in nature and seem linked to contingent situations of political expediency. They fall within the logic of alliances in opposition to an enemy.

Metropolitan Hilarion has long been a proponent of a "strategic alliance" with Catholics, even before he became Head of the Department takes care of the external policy of the Russian Church. The term "alliance" does not belong to the ecclesiastical language of any Christian tradition.

The use of  the lay term suggests that the dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox is understood by the latter as mere diplomacy, even though ecclesiastical. Likewise, those who believe in the unity of the Church, and suffer and pray for the full manifestation of this unity, can not help but be puzzled and baffled by this idea of ​​an alliance "against": against terrorism, against secularism, against moral relativism, against Islam, against liberalism, against Protestants ...

But really do Orthodox and Catholics, who believe they have, and they do, apostolic succession and recognize it in each other,  not have any other reason for the fraternal dialogue than the presence of some common enemy? But really, as disciples of Christ, is all we can strive for really just a "strategic alliance"?

Jesus Christ, on the eve of his Passion, prayed to the Father, asking him earnestly for the unity of his disciples. He prayed not only for his disciples then, but also "for those who through their words will believe", that is for us. He asked the Father, not for a strategic alliance for those who believe in him, but "it may be one. As you, Father, are in me and I in you, may they also be one in us". To strive for the complete overcoming of all theological misunderstandings and historical offenses, the full re-establishment of brotherly love, the full manifestation of unity in Christ, is the duty of every Christian, the fulfillment of the new Commandment (the only one left by the Lord ), our response to that which was his heartfelt prayer: "May they all be one."

* For the first part of the article, click here.

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