RIA Novosti, 30 April 2018

The Orthodox and Catholic churches will not unite because of many contradictions and disagreements that have arisen in the thousand-year history of their separate existence, declared the chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow patriarchate, Metropolitan of Volokolamsk Ilarion.

Commenting on air for the program “Church and World” on television channel Russia 24 regarding the statement by Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew about the inevitability of unification of the two branches of Christianity, the Russian church hierarch expressed disagreement with such a point of view.

“I do not share this position on the basis of a completely realistic analysis of the situation in local Orthodox churches and the situation in Orthodox-Catholic dialogue. Despite the fact that the foundations of our faith are identical and our creed is almost identical, Catholics have a different understanding about the procession of the Holy Spirit—that is the first point. And the second, in the now almost thousand-year history of separate existence many contradictions and disagreements have accumulated between us,” Metropolitan Ilarion said.

For example, several persons who are recognized in the Catholic Church as saints are considered in the Russian Orthodox Church to be heretics or persecutors of Orthodoxy.

“Catholics talk about the possible canonization of Cardinal [Aloysius Viktor] Stepinac. This cardinal was a Croat and in the Catholic Church he is honored as a saint. But in the opinion of the Serbian Orthodox Church, in the years of the Second World War the cardinal participated directly and in an immediate way in the genocide of Serbs,” the hierarch of the RPTs said.

Metropolitan Ilarion cited a number of other arguments showing why the unification of the churches is not a prospect for the foreseeable future. These include numerous attempts to impose Unia upon Orthodox believers, which were made by the Catholics during the Crusades, as well as the modern active anti-Orthodox activity of Uniates in Ukraine. (tr. by PDS, posted 1 May 2018).




  1. Orthodox Church is hijacked by monks, they don’t appreciate even their own laity in the Church, how can they live with other Christians? That is why Ilarion said this. It is not theology it is selfishness without wish to find a way to unite Christians in one because it’ll provoke High-Priest-from-Jesus-time loose of power.

  2. From my years of observing him and the ROC at the official level, it is obvious to me he is speaking politics here, not theology (though in my opinion, it is perhaps better he don’t). The ROC has pretty much mastered the art of playing both ecumenical and anti ecumenical sides, according to the interests of the ROC at any given moment.

    On occasions when it is convenient or when Russian policy demands it, they can be *very* ecumenical (this also serves to keep happy those who are ecumenically minded). But when the opposite is needed, such as now, they rile up the anti ecumenist people. One has to ask, why this statement now? Why not months ago? I don’t think it is a coincidence at all that they are picking up Patriarch Bartholomew’s optimistic statement that by nature can be picked apart by whoever now to do just that in order to accomplish her objective. It just so happens that the Ecumenical Patriarchate has recently been approached by the Ukrainians to be granted autocephaly, and she has decided to look into the matter – a topic most bitter for Moscow.

    So, of course, Moscow is going to stir those who are hostile towards the Ecumenical Patriarchate against the EP. Later on, just as in the past, if God grants us time, when it is convenient for Russia, once again he will talk ecumenically. One just has to wait for the turning of the tides as has always been the case for a long time now.

  3. No, it’s just not theology.

    This is a very insightful assessment. Good work Eric. It is an extraordinarily dubious effort at mustering up yet more groundless excuses – a notable trait, by now, of many of the Moscow Patriarchate’s chief representatives – to delay, postpone, use underhanded tactics to undermine, and in this case, thwart and bring to nothing the significant progress made by the Official Dialogue in overcoming this sinful rupture of communion between the Churches. If there is no hope for re-unification, why is Metropolitan Hilarion himself participating as a delegate of the Joint Theological Commission? Is it just to enjoy the beautiful scenery wherever it meets – the Italian seaside towns or other exotic locations?

    Furthermore, are the grievances enumerated by Metropolitan Hilarion unforgivable sins? Why is it that even two centuries after the outrage of the Fourth Crusade, still searing in the Byzantine consciousness, St. Mark of Ephesus was able to commend the quest for reunification as a work that is divine and holy?

    As we know that the issue of Roman Primacy is by far the thorniest topic requiring further theological treatment, why is it the Filioque, as Metropolitan Hilarion intimates, that is singled out as the insurmountable obstacle of our dialogue when we have in recent times the opinions of many high profile and eminent theologians who in light of a number of agreed statements and official clarifications express a significant degree of optimism at the possibility of reconciling both Eastern and Western traditions on the issue of the procession of the Holy Spirit? Why the pessimist agenda? So the foundations of our faith are identical and the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed are 99% identical, yet the pursuit of unity is not worth pursuing because of the 1% and other “contradictions and disagreements”?

    It is of course true that “contradictions and disagreements” have arisen between the Churches. Unfortunately Metropolitan Hilarion seems to want us make believe that it is the Catholic side that bears the brunt of this honour. I invite all to read the interview given by Metropolitan Ambrosios of the Orthodox Metropolitanate of Korea (Ecumenical Patriarchate) who has first-hand experience with the contributions and disagreements provoked by the Russian Patriarchate’s Ethnophyletistic global agenda in the Orthodox world and its contriubtions to an ecclesial state-of-affairs routinely described by theologians as “heretical” and “unacknowledged schism.”

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