Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Russian Orthodox Seek Relationship with Orthodox Episcopalians

From the Diocese of Pittsburgh website comes an offer by the Russian Large-O Orthodox Church to open discussions with small-o orthodox Episcopal dioceses.

An offer by the Russian Orthodox Church to renew ecumenical relationships with those Episcopal dioceses that have requested Alternative Primatial Oversight stands, states an Oct. 20 letter to Bishop Robert Duncan from His Eminence, Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad.

“We re-affirm the community of views on the fundamental questions of Christian ethics, you Dear Brother, have stated in your letter and express our readiness for further cooperation,” he wrote.

Metropolitan Kirill, who chairs the Russian Orthodox Church’s Department for External Church Relations, had originally written in August to Bishop Duncan and the leaders of other dioceses who have asked for Alternative Provincial Oversight. In that letter he stated that “The Russian Orthodox Church supports your act and expresses willingness to restore relations with your diocese.” Following the consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson in 2003, the Russian Orthodox Church ended all ecumenical contacts with the Episcopal Church USA.

Bishop Duncan welcomed the initial offer of restored relations wholeheartedly. However, before proceeding, he wrote to make sure that the Russian Orthodox Church was fully apprised of the theological positions taken by the Diocese of Pittsburgh and a portion of the other dioceses that requested APO in support of women’s ordination.

In his response, Metropolitan Kirill made it clear that while the Russian Orthodox Church firmly believes that Scripture and Tradition support an exclusively male priesthood, the church “has not discontinued dialogue with Protestant and Anglican Churches,” that have come to another conclusion.

“We look forward to the next step of renewed relationship with our Russian Orthodox brothers and sisters,” said Bishop Duncan.

It is a peculiar phenomenon that the Episcopal Church, in its headlong rush toward radical inclusiveness, has managed to cut itself off from the vast majority of Christians around the world. About the only folks still interested in talking with TEC are the United Methodists, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the UCC, and some other (mostly dying) mainline denominations. At the same time, however, the “exclusive” and “isolated” remnant is at least welcome at the conference table with 1+ billion Catholics, 240 million Orthodox, 200+ million Evangelicals, and, of course, the vast majority of the 70+ million orthodox Anglicans who live outside the USA.

Charles Williams, in Descent into Hell, describes the slow deterioration of a man named Wentworth, as he gradually turns away from reality into the internal deceptions of his own mind. TEC has chosen its illusions over the reality of God. In the end, our illusions wither with our selves, and if we have not embraced the One Who is Real, we can only embrace nothingness.

He was sitting at the end, looking up an avenue of nothingness, and the little flames licked his soul, but they did not now come from without, for they were the power, and the only power, his dead past had on him; the life, and the only life, of his soul. There was, at the end of the grand avenue, a bobbing shape of black and white that hovered there and closed it. As he saw it there came on him a suspense; he waited for something to happen. The silence lasted; nothing happened. In that pause expectancy faded. Presently then the shape went out and he was drawn, steadily, everlastingly, inward and down through the bottomless circles of the void.