Thursday, January 04, 2007

Ecumenism, Moscow Style

From CWN:

Moscow, Jan. 2, 2007 ( - The Russian Orthodox Church is considering canonical sanctions against Bishop Basil Osborne, who headed the Russian Orthodox community in Great Britain, but has transferred his allegiance to the Orthodox patriarchate of Constantinople.

The Russian Orthodox Synod warned Bishop Basil that he is subject to canonical action after he ignored a summons to Moscow, the Interfax news agency reported. The British prelate could be defrocked, the Synod observed, but action would be postponed until representatives of the Moscow patriarchate discussed the case with their counterparts from the patriarchate of Constantinople.

Earlier in 2006, Bishop Basil had announced his plans to affiliate with the Constantinople patriarchate, and been received under that jurisdiction. The Moscow patriarchate responded by suspending the prelate’s right to celebrate the divine liturgy and preside over the Russian Orthodox community in London.

The Moscow patriarchate-- which is by far the largest of the world’s Orthodox communities-- has been in tension with Constantinople in recent years. The Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople has traditionally been recognized as the “first among equals” of the patriarchs in the Orthodox world.

In September, during the discussions of a joint Catholic-Orthodox theological commission, representatives of the Moscow patriarchate challenged a joint statement that, in their view, gave undue emphasis to the authority of the Constantinople patriarch. A Russian Church spokesman explained that the Moscow patriarchate could not accept “an ecclesiological model in which the Patriarch of Constantinople occupies the place of an ‘Eastern Pope.”’

Boy, and people think we in the Latin Church have issues with ecumenism. I quite frankly don't know what to make of the whole thing. Is it good that they're "defending their turf" or bad that they're being quite so, well, Russian about it? It does make me wonder whether the positive response Pope Benedict got during his trip to ConstantinopleIstanbul will make approaching the Russian Orthodox even harder now. Regardless, it certainly seems it will be a hard nut to crack and could take a long, long time and a lot of effort.