Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Moscow Patriarchal Bishop Meets with Indian Orthodox

In fact, he prayed with them and discussed the "strengthening of relations between the two Churches." (Indian Orthodox are Oriental Orthodox, Non-Chalcedonian, or so-called "Monophysites.") Heck, he even met with Roman Catholics! I'm sure before long someone will condemn His Eminence as a raving ecumencal heretic:

Russian Orthodox delegation led by Metropolitan Kirill visit Chinnai and Kerala, India

On December 7, Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, head of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, together with his retinue visited the city of Channai, former Madras.

On December 8, Metropolitan Kirill blessed water at the grave of St. Thomas for the staff of the Russian General consulate in Chinnai. After the thanksgiving, he addressed the congregation, drawing in particular a parallel between the image of St. Thomas, who overcome his non-belief in the resurrection of Christ, and the history of the Russian people, who have gone through a difficult period of non-belief and is now returning to the path of faith. The metropolitan greeted the rector of the Roman Catholic basilica, in which the grave of the apostle is located, and passed over souvenirs.

Then the delegation visited the holy places in Chinnai, associated with the name of St. Thomas. According to tradition, the saint preached in that area for four years and suffered martyrdom there. The delegation also saw the cave in this the apostle hid himself from his persecutors and the hill from which he preached the gospel to the local population.

Later that day, Metropolitan Kirill and his retinue, accompanied by F. Rozovsky, director of the Russian Center for Culture and Science, and D. Topchan, a counselor of the Russian embassy, arrived in Kerala, the Indian state with the predominant Syro-Malankara population. At the airport of the city of Kochi, the delegation was welcomed by Metropolitan Philip Mar Eusebius, director for inter-Christian relations at the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. From the airport, the delegation proceeded to the residence of the head of this Church in Kottayam. They were welcomed there by bishops, clergy and laity of the Malankara Church led by their primate, His Holiness Mar Baselius Mar Thoma Didymos 1, Catholicos of the East and Malankara Metropolitan.

Metropolitan Kirill took part in the presentation of the first volume of the five-volume edition of Philokalia in the Malayalam language, which took place at the Mammen Mappillai Hall in Kottayam. The presentation was held in the framework of a seminar on spirituality, which gathered together representatives of Christian communities from all over Kerala. Dr. Cherian Ipen, director of this publishing project, made an opening address. After his introduction, the choir accompanying Metropolitan Kirill and led by I. Yakimchuk of the DECR, sang several hymns of the Russian Orthodox Church. After that, the seminar was addressed by His Holiness Mar Baselius Mar Thoma Didymos 1 who stressed the significance of Philokalia as an important testimony to the rich spiritual tradition of Orthodoxy. He said that the publication of this book in the vernacular would promote dialogue between Christian confessions and religious traditions in India. F. Rozovsky greeted the seminar on behalf of his center. The next speaker was Metropolitan Kirill who pointed to the importance of Philokalia for modern man. His Eminence welcomed the fact that this book, cherished so much by the Orthodox, was published in the Malayalam language. He said it would not only make the Orthodox spiritual tradition more accessible for the local Christian community but would also help to introduce it to people of other religions in India.

On December 9, the Russian Orthodox delegation visited the Kottayam Seminary, the main educational institution of the Malankara Church. His Holiness Mar Baselius Mar Thoma Didymos 1 welcomed the guest to the seminary. After a prayer at the smeinary’s [sic.] chapel, Metropolitan Kirill had the honour of opening the newly-equipped classroom for foreign languages. A token was placed in the classroom in memory of the occasion.

A solemn meeting took place at the seminary’s assembly hall to welcome the Russian Church delegation. The rector of the seminary, Rev. K. M. George, was the first speaker. He made a survey of the relations between the Malankara and Russian Churches, referring to the historic visits made to Kottayam by Patriarch Pimen of Moscow and All Russia and Metropolitan Alexy of Tallin and Estonia, now Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia. Metropolitan Kirill’s visit, the speaker said, continued the chain of these important events. The rector pointed to the metropolitan’s special contribution to the development of relations between the two Churches, noting that Metropolitan Kirill, who had directed the theological schools in Leningrad for many years, was a teacher and mentor for many of those present in the assembly hall.

Catholicos Mar Thoma Didymos I, in his speech, stressed that the Russian Orthodox Church was highly esteemed by the faithful of the Malankara Church. He expressed the conviction that the visit of Metropolitan Kirill, an outstanding theologian and active participant in the inter-Christian dialogue, would contribute to the fostering of relations between the two Churches. Metropolitan Matthews Mar Sevir, who was the next speaker, spoke about the warm memories of his years at the Leningrad Theological Academy when it was headed by His Eminence Kirill.

The meeting culminated in the decoration of Metropolitan Kirill with a high award of the Malankara Church – the Order of St. Gregory of Parumala. Metropolitan Kirill was the first to be granted this award. Metropolitan Philip Mar Eusebius described the visit of the DECR chairman as another step on the way to the strengthening of relations between the two Churches. He defined two areas for cooperation: training theologians and translation of major texts of both traditions.

In his response, Metropolitan Kirill added other areas for common efforts, namely, cooperation in developing a concept of human rights and dignity and an agreed position in the dialogue with non-Christina [sic.] religions.

To read the story onsite in English, go to Moscow Patriarchate's main page and follow the navigation links.



Blogger Eric said...

I thought the Indian Orthodox were "Nestorian", i.e. from the Eastern Syrian tradition.

2:59 PM  
Blogger Jean-Michel said...

thank you for offering me the opportunity :-)

in fact, the Christianity in India is much more complicated than even in America.

I posted the news when it came out, with several links to see what precise Church we're talking about

MP has done worse yet in Paris. Politics instead of Faith has always led, since 2 millenium, some bishops to go on erroneous paths.
It is not because some in WRO approve their path that their path is the path of the Church. Opinion of a few or of a majority is only opinion.

in fine, the Holy Spirit will show the right way

let's pray for all these bishops, instead of sending them undeserved flowers... or stones


1:15 AM  
Blogger Tim said...

The spirit of these things is what is important, as well as episcopal authority. The enforcement of canons is fundamentally that of the Bishop, and in certain matters by proxy, his Presbyters. While many use the term "ekonomia" commonly used to mean "leniency" (as in loosening the import of relevent canons), I think this can be a little misleading. The term really refers to the whole of a Bishop's management of the household affairs of the Lord - and with regard to the canons, that can mean he enforces them rigorously, or very leniently, as circumstances warrant.

In the case of "praying with heretics", the concern behind such canons should be obvious - the protection of the faithful, and to avoid re-affirming heretics and schismatics in their errors. It is in that sense that such dealings with heretics are "polluting" - similar to how food offered to idols and then sold in the markets is "polluted"; in the end, such pollution will only effect those who are weak, and need their consciences rigorously protected against scandal.

Any valid criticism of the ecumenical activities of any particular Orthodox Bishop and his clergy must keep the above in mind.

So the question becomes, "are certain of the ecumenical activities being participated in by many Orthodox Bishops in contravention of the spirit of the canons?"

The context of the various (often overlapping, and in some cases even contradictory) canons is also important. The Orthodox Church has always made a distinction between those outside of Her - it's not a case of all outside of the Church being in "undifferentiated darkness." As such, there is arguably more of a basis for Orthodox Bishops praying irenically for a certain desired end with a delegation of Christian heretics (namely, re-union, which for us Orthodox cannot but mean the repentence of the heterodox - and if you read what the Ecumenical Patriarch and others have actually said needs to happen for there to be re-union, that is what they believe), than there is for trying anything remotely similar with idolaters.

There are real problems in Orthodox Christendom, and we'd be fools to not own up to this - but to create more of them via some kind of "chicken little" mentality, is downright schismatic. I say this with a great deal of experience, since before I was enrolled as a catechumen in a real Orthodox Church, I had some involvement with the rabid end of Old Calendarism. If "by your fruits you will know them" were ever true, it was true of some of these folks - I think in Greece right now, there are at least 15 Old Calendarist bodies, and each of them pretty much regards the others as being non-entities.

Narrowness and impatience (with situations where a real wrong has been committed by an Orthodox Bishop or Priest) are not traditional parts of Orthodoxy, but spiritual and moral failings. Even when we do see something that is wrong (and not simply wrong due to our own ignorance or pride), our response (especially as laymen) is not to immediately go crazy and jump ship - breaking communion with someone is a fearsome thing, and historically is usually something forced upon the Orthodox faithful, and not elective (ex. many Orthodox seperated from heretics because they were thrown out of the Churches by them!)

7:12 AM  
Blogger Ben Johnson said...

Hi Eric,

You're thinking of the "Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East." (Here's a PDF in which they try to rehabilitate his image -- ugh.) The Malankara Church has a close association with the Syrian "Jacobites."

JM, even non-Francophones will enjoy the pictures in your blog entry.

Tim, spot-on.

God bless,

11:25 PM  

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