Bishop Hilarion, the Russian Orthodox Bishop of Vienna and Austria, has said in an interview that the Orthodox and Catholic Churches are allies who could form a strategic alliance to defend Christian values, Interfax reports. He also criticized many Protestants for having a “light version” of Christianity.
Speaking to the Bulgarian magazine Christianity and Culture, Bishop Hilarion said, “We must realize that Orthodox and Catholic believers are no longer rivals. We are allies. The rivalry must be gone once and for all. If we understand that, proselytism will stop.”
The bishop said that “romantic ecumenism,“ which he said characterizes the World Council of Churches and the Conference of European Churches, is not viable. He said that many Protestants have created a “light version of Christianity, without apostolic succession, without sacraments, without strict dogmatic teaching and what is also important they don't require sticking to Christian moral norms.”
He said this version of Christianity, when it revises Christian theological or moral teachings to become more “modern” or “politically correct,” becomes “a direct way to spiritual death.” He said this version of Christianity had stopped recognizing centuries-old sins, and now even promotes them.
Bishop Hilarion’s statement comes just days after Pope Benedict addressed an ecumenical gathering in New York where he also denounced versions of Christianity that contradict apostolic teachings. At the gathering of about 300 people, the Pope said that Christian churches which change their beliefs by so-called ‘prophetic actions,’ often use a method of interpretation that is inconsistent with Scripture and Tradition.
The Holy Father added that this causes those interested in Christianity to become “understandably confused about the Gospel message itself” because they see Christians splintering and disagreeing about the beliefs of the faith.
The “message that the world is waiting to hear from us,” the Pope said, is “a clear, convincing testimony to the salvation wrought for us in Christ Jesus”… “based upon the notion of normative apostolic teaching: a teaching which indeed underlies the inspired word of God and sustains the sacramental life of Christians today.”
According to Interfax, Bishop Hilarion said a joint Orthodox-Catholic “front” is necessary to oppose both the challenges of secularism and dialogue with other world religions. Bilateral, strategic partnerships between the two Churches, he thought, would be the best way to achieve this.
“I don't mean union, administrative merger or compromise in theological teaching, I mean strategical partnership," said Bishop Hilarion, who is also the Russian Orthodox Church Representative to European International Organizations.