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ROCOR Views Expressed in Moscow

On 24 June Fr Vsevolod Chaplin (born 1968), Deputy Head of the Department of External Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church, again recalled the position on ecumenism of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, which since the Year 2000 has gradually been adopted by the rest of the Russian Church. How heartening it is to hear almost the very words that we used to say over thirty years ago from the lips of a senior official in Moscow today. He stated:

‘Some Russian Orthodox participants in inter-Christian meetings used to say one thing in the West and quite a different thing at home, especially from the 70s to the 90s. The most important thing was to attract everyone and court popularity here and there. Many Western Christians do the same thing today. But, thanks be to God, it has become impossible in the age of the Internet, when Moscow or Athens learns everything you say in Geneva in a couple of hours. Again, thanks be to God, we have to tell our Western partners what our Church truly thinks and does, even at the expense of hypocritically good relations, various amiabilities and compliments…

Will the West return to Christ? Even if it does, it will not happen today. Nothing kills faith… and thought and creative work… more than a self-satisfied, quiet, predictable and self-assured life. We need to remind the West of this… to remind it in order to kindle those small, little-known gleams of spiritual life that still linger there. This is so that people who live in Western countries may turn to Christ, at least in time of trial or before death. But will all Western society be converted again? Will it populate the churches that have been turned into dull local halls or clubs for old people and housewives, where women’s rights and climate change are discussed instead of questions of life and death? Perhaps everything will change when their quiet life comes to an end, when the menacing global reality spills over onto quiet European and American streets. It is more than possible.

I was reading an article in a French Catholic paper. It urged Orthodox to hold joint Easter celebrations [with the Latin West]. It explained how useful the Western Paschal cycle is for the Christian East and how harmful it is not to accept it. All arguments, all ‘sticks’ and all ‘carrots’ were brought into play. Change the calendar and the West will understand you better, while now you are a minority and live in a diaspora. Throw away ‘your clocks that are slow’ and our joy will be shared. Follow the example of the Good Samaritan, break conventions and people will turn to you. Remember that all divisions are from the devil and any unity is from the Lord. Finally, think of peace, mutual communication and preaching among secular people! I was reading and wondering, Catholic Brothers, if you treasure peace, communication and a joint message, if you seek to sing ‘Christ is Risen!’ together with us, why have you never thought of changing your own paschal cycle? The article does not even mention it…

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