“All current versions of Christianity can be very conditionally divided into two major groups – traditional and liberal,” said Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the chairman of the Russian Orthodox Church’s Department for External Church Relations, speaking to a group of Anglicans in London.
The abyss that exists today divides not so much the Orthodox from the Catholics or the Catholics from the Protestants as it does the ‘traditionalists’ from the ‘liberals’. Some Christian leaders, for example, tell us that marriage between a man and a woman is no longer the only way of building a Christian family: there are other models and the Church should become appropriately ‘inclusive’ to recognize alternative behavioural standards and give them official blessing. Some try to persuade us that human life is no longer an absolute value; that it can be terminated in a mother’s womb or that one can terminate one’s life at will. Christian ‘traditionalists’ are being asked to reconsider their views under the slogan of keeping abreast with modernity.
The metropolitan goes on, after a review of the generally friendly relation of Orthodoxy and Anglicanism for the last 150 years, to say that he is concerned about “the fate of this dialogue,” which is “approaching collapse” because of “the liberalism and relativism which have become so characteristic of today’s Anglican theology,” and practice as well, when some Anglican “have taken them [steps] even farther away from our common Christian Church Tradition.”
He mentions the problem of the Anglicans’ ordination of women bishops and the cheerful Anglican idea that if this harms relations with Orthodoxy and Catholicism, it’ll improve relations with the Scandinavian Lutheran Churches (Titanic, meet Lusitania). And then he says something startlingly blunt for such an occasion:
Many Protestant and Anglican communities refuse to preach Christian moral values in secular society and prefer to adjust to worldly standards.
Our Church must sever its relations with those churches and communities that trample on the principles of Christian ethics and traditional morals. Here we uphold a firm stand based on Holy Scripture. . . .
What can these churches say to their faithful and to secular society? What kind of light do they shine upon the world (cf. Mt. 5:14)? What is their ‘salt’? I am afraid the words of Christ can be applied to them: If the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men (Mt. 5:13).
The situation leaves Orthodoxy looking at its allies in other ecclesial bodies, especially the Catholic Church, which is a significant statement in itself.
We are not alone in our concern for the preservation of Christian values. . . . [W]e seek and find allies in opposing the destruction of the very essence of Christianity. One of the major tasks in our inter-Christian work today is to unite the efforts of Christians for building a system of solidarity on the basis of Gospel morality in Europe and throughout the world. Our positions are shared by the Roman Catholic Church, with which we have held numerous meetings and conferences. Together we are considering the possibility of establishing an Orthodox-Catholic alliance in Europe for defending the traditional values of Christianity. The primary aim of this alliance would be to restore a Christian soul to Europe. We should be engaged in common defence of Christian values against secularism and relativism.