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Time is against the Liberals

As is known, the Orthodox Churches never went through the massive loss of faith of the Roman Catholic and Protestant denominations and the resulting secularization of their Christian heritage in the 1960s. Forty years on, even beyond the visible evidence all around us, almost daily reports of the ever accelerating deChristianization of Western Europe come in. For example, Roman Catholics in France are asking to be ‘debaptized’, up to 10,000 near-empty churches in Germany will have to be sold off over the next few years for lack of faithful, one single diocese of the Roman Catholic Church in the Czech Republic has over forty empty churches for sale, including a monastery with 2,000 hectares for only $120,000, the dwindling Anglican Communion is torn apart by a schism about the justification of practising homosexuals among its clergy, Methodism is in steep decline, religious faith in Holland and the Scandinavian countries continues to falter, Belgium reports an incredible lack of priests.

Now a report by the Christian Science Monitor of 11 October 2007 states that Orthodox Christianity may be ‘a balm for Europe’ and that the old pronouncements by arrogant Western social scientists that the Orthodox Church is finished ‘are being proved wrong’. The Monitor reports that: ‘Today, as in the parable of the prodigal son, throughout Eastern Europe people are returning to the Orthodox Church in droves, and the effect in the public sphere, contrary to most expectations, is quite benign’. The journalist continues: ‘Attempts by some to make out that that modern secularism is ‘the gold standard of democracy’ and ‘to decry all challenges to secularism as examples of a values gap between East and West’ are not accepted. ‘Given the rapidly growing numbers, influence, and wealth of the Orthodox Churches of Eastern Europe, it is a conflict Western Europeans are likely to lose’. The journalist comments that, ‘it is time to rethink old assumptions about Orthodox believers and to tap the enormous contributions that they can make to the creation of a peaceful and prosperous Continent’.

The remarks on morality and their source, spiritual life, of Patriarch Alexei II in France last week have only highlighted the Orthodox viewpoint. According to the author of the above-mentioned report, the relative isolation of the Orthodox Church ‘has more to do with the fact that Catholic and Protestant Christianity have so often denied an equal voice to those who disagreed with them’. The journalist also remarks that, ‘with the exception of Greece, this sad legacy has made Western Europeans notoriously slow to accept countries with large Orthodox populations into pan-European institutions. In the current expansion eastward, however, it is inevitable that the values and mores of Western European institutions and alliances will be shaped more and more by the traditionalist views of Orthodox Christian believers and less and less by the modern, secularized Protestant assumptions of Western European democracies. Orthodox believers already far outnumber Protestants across Europe, and by some estimates they may eventually even surpass Roman Catholics. If 21st century Europe ever develops a religious complexion, it will be predominantly Orthodox’.

Predicting these thoughts, the Russian Orthodox commentator of the External Relations Department of the Russian Orthodox Church, Fr Vsevold Chaplin, yesterday made the following points: ‘Life without God leads people to despair, confusion and unhappiness, even if they have money, arms and power’; ‘Eternal moral values never grow old’, and; ‘There can be no future without moral values, otherwise that future will turn into non-being and destruction’. He stated that ‘many, especially liberal politicians, of the older generation do not agree with the position of the Russian Church’, and added that: ‘But time is not on their side and their monopoly on politics and on social discussion is coming to an end’.

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