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The Strength of our Church is in Unity':
Some Thoughts on Theology in the Contemporary Diaspora.

IThe following is a question and answer taken from an interview this week with the well-known and respected Professor A. I. Osipov of the Moscow Theological Academy. (Source

It is reassuring to see that the Professor thinks exactly what thousands of ordinary clergy and laity in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia have always thought.

What is happening in the emigration? Can we say that Russian theology outside Russia is dying out or being assimilated at the moment? Isn't Orthodox theology passing into the hands of Non-Russians, who have become Orthodox, or else sympathize with it? Is it not being diluted under the influence of Roman Catholic and/or Protestant theological science?

At the present time the former stars of theology are no more...and at the moment it is difficult to judge whether there is any hope of rebirth. At the same time the sonorous names of Non-Russians are making their appearance. Among them one could name, for example, Olivier Clement. But there again when I read his conversations with Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople, I was left in no doubt that the author was a fully orthodox...Roman Catholic.

Many in Russia (and not only in Russia - Fr Andrew) were shocked by the story of Metropolitan Antony (Bloom) and how, together with Metropolitan John (Wendland), he said the Jesus Prayer kneeling in a Buddhist temple; the attitudes of Metropolitan Antony and Bishop Kallistos (Ware) towards woman priests were astonishing. (And astonishing not only to Russians - Fr Andrew).

Or there is this interesting case. Once in Brussels, Archbishop Basil (Krivoshein) invited me round and, in the course of a conversation, complained how his long-standing Athonite colleague, Hieromonk (later Archimandrite) Sophrony, had sent him his book 'To See God As He Is', from London, together with a whole dossier of rave reviews by Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants, and was awaiting Archbishop Basil's reaction. He said: 'Six months have gone by, but I still haven't answered, because I can't give a positive appreciation and if I write the truth, he'll be deeply offended'.

As Vladyka explained, the truth is that the spirit of that book is Western, full of spiritual illusions. I remembered the conversation many years later, when I too was sent the book from London, together with a supplement of numerous reviews full of praise, and only then did I understand Vladyka Basil. Today, opinions are completely divided about the book, as well as about other books by Archimandrite Sophrony (especially 'On Prayer').

Despite age-old Russian tradition, the Catholic-Protestant practice of communion without confession and fasting is creeping into our Orthodox circles in the West (not in the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia - Fr Andrew). More and more you see people are attracted to socio-political, horizontal topics, to the detriment of the spiritual.

Professor A. I. Osipov

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