Friday, April 29, 2005

MORE POPE BLOGGING. Despite their difficulties and differences, the Russian Orthodox Church sent a delegation to the Vatican to attend the investiture of Pope Benedict XVI. The delegation also arranged to meet and negotiate.

Cyril, who is in charge of external politics for the Russian Orthodox Church met with the new Pope, now known as Benedict XVI. (There are so many people in the world with two names. I feel really left out. All those terrorists had a least two names. All the religious guys have extra names. Hmm.)

When these two groups meet, it is like a reconciliation attempt of a married couple that believes divorce is wrong, but really cannot stand to live with each other. They always say they hope great strides will be made toward reconciliation. But then they both begin to complain about the other one’s actions and defend their own as misunderstood.

For example, Alexy II of the Orthodox begins by flattering the Pope, then pointing out that he is wrong. He said “He has deep knowledge, powerful intellect and he is fearless about defending traditional Christian values among the people who are trying to remove these values, destroy them. For that reason, the pope is respected in the entire Christian world, including the Orthodox one.”

So far, so good, you say. But, he continues. “Of course, we do have theological differences.”

Then, Alexi puts the burden of reconciliation on the Pope. (See how much like marital counseling this is?) He said “I sincerely hope that the elected Pope Benedict XVI will do everything it takes to improve the relationship with ROC. It’s too early to tell what would be the concrete steps of the new head of the Roman Catholic Church, and how his activities would be reflected on the condition of Orthodox-Catholic relationships.”

One big problem is not theological, but is a turf war. Alexi continues: “I think it depends of what position Pope Benedict XVI takes toward proselytism among the Orthodox believers. His position would be the base for further development of Orthodox-Catholic dialogue. Today the biggest pain of among our church members is created by work of Catholic missionaries with poor children that were baptized as Orthodox or growing up in Orthodox families.”

I don’t know if it causes pain in Orthodox families, but it is causing pain in the Orthodox leadership as the Roman resurgence grows, especially in Russia.

Alexi said “This problem demands a clear unequivocal reaction from the Vatican. I’m sure that Pope Benedict XVI has all the necessary means in his possession to change the situation for better. “ In other words, unless the Pope puts people in traditionally Orthodox countries off limits to Catholic evangelism or recruitment, these people will keep sleeping in separate beds.Not only that, the Pope won’t even get invited to supper in the Russian house unless he changes his ways. Alexi said “The possibility of my meeting with him in Moscow will depend of which line he will take in relationship with ROC and how he will show his will.”

That Alexi is a prickly guy, isn’t he. Human nature is the enemy of ecumenism. Alexi usually has his on display.

If his deal goes bad with the Orthodox, we could probably find a place for him in Southern Baptist Leadership. The ability to make everybody mad is usually considered a credential there.
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