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Brothers-in-Arms and Prodigal Sons

One year after his election as leader of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has commented that while Orthodox and Catholic Churches "have similar positions on many problems facing Christians in the modern world," he noticed "growing differences with Protestant denominations."

"Pope Benedict XVI has taken a stance close to the Orthodox one," the Patriarch noted, whereas "the Russian Church has seen less Protestant communities cooperating in the cause of preserving the Christian legacy" due to "the relentless liberalization of the Protestant world.

"Alas, not only have [Protestants] failed to conduct a real propagation of the Christian values among the secular society, many Protestant communities prefer to adjust to its standards."

Since the Great Schism in 1054 AD, Catholics and Orthodox have been a single church in imperfect communion - it's sort of like brothers in a thousand year family feud. Protestantism, on the other hand, broke communion with the ancient churches in the 16th century and now exists as a separate religion. As Catholics and Orthodox have recently made gestures toward reconciliation, the gulf between these faiths and Protestantism has continuously widened.

Comprising one-third of the world's population, these faiths constitute the dominant intellectual and moral force of Western history. The great question remains whether they are presently striving to guide Westerndom in the same direction.

Categories > Religion

Discussions - 7 Comments

Hear Vienna's Cardinal Schoenborn on this theme, speaking recently at Catholic University:

And here's a talk by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch on the same themes. Don't be put off by the introduction by John Podesta of the Center for American Progress.

You're killing me, Ken. First I have to be schooled on religious blogs by you, and now you're leading me to speeches at my own alma mater! You're going to have me in therapy for low self-esteem soon...

Yes, to be schooled by me on matters of religion, is a dark night of the soul!

"Since the Great Schism in 1054 AD, Catholics and Orthodox have been a single church in imperfect communion - it's sort of like brothers in a thousand year family feud. Protestantism, on the other hand, broke communion with the ancient churches in the 16th century and now exists as a separate religion."

I think the first statement diminishes the seriousness of Eastern concerns.

With regard to the second, many Protestants viewed themselves as retrieving much of, even a communion with, the ancient church--one has only to read the leading lights to see how assiduously they, e.g., studied patristic writings, or emulated patristic liturgical practice. You might think their reading of history and theology wrong, but you ought at least to describe them in a way that would be comprehensible to them.

Broke communion --attributes all agency in the matter to Protestants. That's not really a plausible reading of the 16th century.

Different religion--If you mean all Protestants not in communion with the RC church, then I think this is at best an unguarded statement that goes well beyond what the pope himself would say about some Protestants. If you mean liberal Protestantism is a different religion, then I heartily agree.

This post also highly exaggerates the unity of the Catholic Church. Good grief it's as if Jesuits didn't exist. How about that whole liberation theology too. It reminds me of those laughable coming home or whatever its called episodes on EWTN where they go on and on about unity and of course don't bother to mention to the rather nasty divisions in "the one true church." Protestants like myself like to laugh about how the catholic church looks like a bunch of schismatics who just happen to fall under a single pope. Granted I like the current pope at least on some things but I don't trust elections.

John, there is a lot more unity in the Catholic Church than you may realize. Liberation theology has been completely repudiated and the baby boomers who made it fashionable have been completely marginalized or gone to a Unitarian church down the road. John Paul II and B16 have staffed the upper echelons of the hierarchy with their orthodox successors faithful to the Magisterium. Most of the seminaries have come around and stopped their nonsense from the 1960s and 1970s. The new priests and young families are JPII Catholics, faithful, obedient, well-read, having lots of kids, traditionalists, etc. who have rejected all the nonsense from the last 30 years. The Catholic Church is probably going to lose many of those liberals soon but will emerge a somewhat stronger but cohesive and unified and orthodox group of believers. The schismatics as you refer to them have lost steam and are no longer able to tear at the seams. The Protestants - and I don't mean to be aggressive - are the ones hopelessly divided not only into countless denominations but also torn apart visibly by the struggle between modernists and traditionalists. Do many of them agree on anything? In short, I think what you're saying may have been partly true in 1975 or 1985, but completely ignores the tide of the last 15 years.

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