09 November 2008

Bishop Hilarion of Vienna and Austria on ecumenism

There's an interesting and wide-ranging interview of the Orthodox Bishop of Vienna and Austria by Peter Bouteneff. I think that the whole interview is worth reading, but what the bishop said about ecumenism certainly rang bells for me.

Dr. Peter C. Bouteneff -- An Interview with His Grace, Bishop Hilarion of Vienna and Austria:
After more than thirteen years of intensive ecumenical involvement I can declare my profound disappointment with the existing forms of “official” ecumenism as represented by the World Council of Churches, the Conference of European Churches and other similar organizations. My impression is that they have exhausted their initial potential. Theologically they lead us nowhere. They produce texts that, for the most part, are pale and uninspiring. The reason for this is that these organizations include representatives of a wide variety of churches, from the most “conservative” to the most “liberal.” And the diversity of views is so great that they cannot say much in common except for a polite and politically correct talk about “common call to unity,” “mutual commitment” and “shared responsibility.”

I see that there is now a deep-seated discrepancy between those churches which strive to preserve the Holy Tradition and those that constantly revise it to fit modern standards. This divergence is as evident at the level of religious teaching, including doctrine and ecclesiology, as it is at the level of church practice, such as worship and morality.

Hat-tip to Ad Orientem: Bp. Hilarion (Alfeeyev) Speaks

I have plenty of pale and uninspiring texts mouldering in files and on shelves, produced by ecumenical gatherings, and the only thing that stops me throwing them out is the thought that I might need to quote something from one the following day. And I've been to plenty of ecumenical gatherings where talk is cheap and action non-existent. A few have been worth attending, not for what they achieved, but for the insight they gave into the reasons for non-achievement.

One of the latter class was a meeting of the South African Council of Churches a few years ago on Zimbabwe, where members of the South African observer team of the Zimbabwean elections confessed that they had been persuaded to sign a statement declaring the elections free and fair when it was pretty evident that they were not, and at the meeting they spoke of their remorse at having thereby exacerbated the problems in that unhappy country instead of helping to solve them.


Yewtree said...

Strange that ecumenism should be so lacklustre when I would have thought the one thing all Christians would agree on would be social justice... but then social justice for whom...?

Steve Hayes said...


Would that they did!

PapaSymeon said...

In my personal opinion, true ecumenical dialogue should take primacy between "mainstream" or "World" Orthodoxy and the Traditional Orthodox of Greece, Russia, Romania, Bulgaria, Western Europe/America, BEFORE bothering with the likes of the Orientals and the Romans.

Fr Symeon


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