Pope Benedict XVI's Overture to the Orthodox Church Must Continue
understands that with time he will get older and weaker. That is why he made the decision to give his post up to somebody else.
Brilev: Let me ask a question than may seem to many to have a second bottom. Perhaps it really has it. According to many, Benedict XVI's decision was catalyzed by the criticism leveled against the Catholic Church as, regrettably, cases of sexual abuse of children and many other things have accumulated in it. For instance, the case of this butler was rather loud. I refer to it because the Russian Orthodox Church has sometimes found itself attacked by both open and covert ill-wishers, etc. Has the criticism voiced become a catalyst or no? What do you think?
Metropolitan Hilarion: It is difficult to say. I believe the Pope has weighed all the circumstances. Really, the Catholic Church has recently come to face new challenges. In some sense they are old because under Pope John Paul II the Catholic Church was criticized for conservatism and traditionalism. The criticism came from the extremely liberal Western society. At the same time, Pope John Paul II was popular with the mass media; one can say he was a media-star. In those years Benedict XVI was at his side. He was a cardinal then, leading one of the major congregations.
He saw the process of aging and dying, but not in the way the mass media look at it. He saw it with the eyes of a church man and understood that actually for some time the Church was left without real governance under a living pope or the governance was entrusted to other people. I believe as a witness to this he did not want to repeat this experience in his own life.
Brilev: You spoke about Celestine V. He is mentioned in Dante's 'Divine Comedy' and the author seems to accuse him of faint-heartedness.
Metropolitan Hilarion: Here is for you an example of different views of the church reality. Dante put Celestine V in Hell while the Catholic Church has canonized him.
Brilev: Never in my life have I thought that I would catch you up on a word, but unexpectedly I did. Speaking now about the first hierarch of the Catholic Church, you mentioned simply a pope. At the same time, as far as I can understand it, in the Orthodox system of coordinates one should necessarily add the words 'of Rome', for there is the Pope of Alexandria, who is much more close to the Russian Orthodox Church canonically. It is just an introduction to the question I wanted to ask. You and the Catholics have a common negative agenda, for instance, the unacceptability of same-sex marriages for both Russian Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism - the fact often mentioned now in the news. Do you have a common positive agenda?
Metropolitan Hilarion: Yes, we have, because, in the first place, both the Orthodox and the Catholics have a common faith in One God glorified in the Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Both the Orthodox and the Catholics are at one in confessing Christ as God-Man. We have differences in dogmatic matters, not as strong as those on which we agree. We disagree on the understanding of the procession of the Holy Spirit. The Orthodox confess that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, while the Catholics say the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. It is a long historical dispute; it has lasted for over a millennium.
In addition, we have common approaches to all the fundamental moral and social issues. For instance, our family ethics is almost identical. Why do the Catholics stand out against the legalization of abortion, support of same-sex unions and adoption by same-sex couples? Because both the Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church build their moral teaching on the biblical foundation. We share it.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Orthodox, Russian orthodox, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Patriarch Kirill, Pope Benedict XVI, ecumenism, Christian unity, Deacon Keith Fournier
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