The almost universal introduction of women in the priesthood in the Protestant world significantly deepened the rift between the Orthodox and Protestants. The propaganda of so-called “language of inclusion” in referring to God repelled many traditional Christians. Causing particular indignation among the Orthodox, then and now, are the efforts of some Protestant churches to impose the discussion of sexual minorities on the WCC.
It is well known that among some Protestant churches, the traditional view of homosexuality as a sin–a view reflected in Tradition and in Holy Scripture–has in recent years been subjected to re-evaluation. In the Episcopal Church, USA , an openly-homosexual man was recently consecrated a bishop, and the Church of Sweden introduced the rite of blessing “same-sex marriages.” This led to the decision of the Russian Orthodox Church to cease all official contacts with the two churches. Such processes could not but influence the agenda and the very “ethos” of the World Council of Churches, which in the 1990’s began to be viewed by the Orthodox as alien to their self-conception.
All these processes contributed to the fact that not long before the Assembly of the WCC in Harare , the Georgian and Bulgarian Orthodox Church withdrew from membership. The Jerusalem Patriarchate, without leaving the Council, stopped sending delegates to its events, and did not send representatives to the Assembly in Harare . The Russian Orthodox Church sent a delegation of 3 persons (usually, delegations included some 20-30 persons), headed by a hieromonk. All this attests to the significant “cooling” in the relations between the Orthodox Churches and the Council.
The fact that our church already broke dialog with the Episcopal Church of the USA and the Church of Sweden attests to the fact that the inter-Christian community, if you will, is “bursting at the seams.” It is difficult to doubt that other Northern Protestant Churches will follow the lead of the American Episcopals and Swedish Lutherans, and that soon the bonds will tear on a regular basis. In this case, one fine day, “the union of Protestants and Orthodox,” as the WCC is today, will simply not bear the weight of accumulated differences, and the “ecumenical ship” will sink.
In this situation, I suppose that a consolidation is needed in the efforts of those churches which consider themselves “Churches of Tradition,” that is, the Orthodox, Catholics and pre-Chalcedonians. I am not talking about the serious dogmatic and ecclesiological differences which exist between these Churches and which can be considered within the framework of bilateral dialog. I am talking about the need to reach an agreement between these Churches on some strategic alliance, pact, union for defending traditional Christianity as such—defense from all modern challenges, whether militant liberalism, militant atheism or militant Islam. I would like to underline that a strategic alliance is my own idea, not the official position of the Moscow Patriarchate.
We do not need union with the Catholics, we do not need “intercommunion,” we do not need compromise for a doubtful “rapprochement.” What we do need , in my opinion , is a strategic alliance , for the challenge is made to traditional Christianity as such. This is especially noticeable in Europe , where de-Christianization and liberalization are occurring as persistently as the gradual and unswerving Islamization. The liberal, weakened “Christianity” of the Protestant communities cannot resist the onslaught of Islam; only staunch, traditional Christianity can stand against it, ready to defend its moral positions. In this battle, the Orthodox and Catholics could, even in the face of all the differences accumulated over the centuries, form a united front.
The strategic alliance I propose must first of all defend traditional moral values such as the family, childbirth, spousal fidelity. These values are subjected to systematic mockery and derision in Europe by liberals and democrats of all types. Instead of spousal fidelity, “free love” is promoted, same-sex partnerships are equated with the union of marriage, childbirth is opposed by “planned families.” Unfortunately, we have serious differences in these matters with most Protestants, not to speak of fundamental theological and ecclesiological character.
I will use as an example a conversation with a Lutheran bishop, held within the framework of a theological dialog with one of the Northern Lutheran churches. We tried to prepare a joint document in the defense of traditional values. We began to talk about abortion. I asked: “Can we put in the joint document that abortion is a sin?” The Lutheran bishop responded: “Well, of course, we don’t promote abortion, we prefer contraception.” Question: “But abortion is in the opinion of your church, a sin, or is it not?” Reply: “Well, you see, there are various circumstances, for example, the life of a mother or child could be in danger.” “Well, if there is no threat to either the mother or the child, then is abortion a sin, or not?” And the Lutheran bishop could not concede that abortion is a sin.
What is there to talk about then? Abortion is not a sin, same-sex marriage is fine, contraception—wonderful. There it is, liberal Christianity in all its glory. Besides Orthodox Christians, only the Catholics preserve the traditional view of family values in Europe , and in regard, as in many others, they are our strategic partners.