Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Russian Orthodox Reject Interconfessional Worship, 12 May 2008

Once again it has been asserted in the Russian Orthodox church of the Moscow patriarchate that they do not consider it possible for Orthodox persons to perform divine services jointly with representatives of other Christian confessions.

"We wish to affirm once again our intention to refrain from participation in joint worship with persons of other confessions," a worker in the Secretariat for Inter-Christian Relations of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow patriarchate, the priest Alexander Vasiutin, told the "Interfax-Religion" portal.

He said that this matter has acquired new pertinence in the process of preparing for the XIII General Assembly of the Conference of European Churches which is scheduled for July 2009 in Lyons (France).

The news agency's interlocutor, who also is a member of the assembly's organizing committee, noted that "the position of the Russian Orthodox church, unfortunately, does not always meet with understanding among representatives of other local Orthodox churches."

As an example, Fr Alexander told how at a recent session of the organizing committee Metropolitan of Gaul Emmanuel (Constantinople patriarchate) responded to the suggestion of refraining from performing interconfessional worship at the assembly by saying that "the position of representatives of the Moscow patriarchate on this matter reminds one of the behavior of a man who has a wife but doesn't sleep with her."

In addition, the representative of Constantinople posed the question, "why do representatives of the Moscow patriarchate always refuse to participate in joint worship with non-Orthodox, while Patriarch Alexis II of Moscow and all-Rus participated in joint worship with Catholic clergy in the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris when he was there?"

"There is no need to repeat the information disseminated by many church and secular news media that in reality an Orthodox prayer service was conducted in the Paris Notre Dame cathedral at which representatives of the Roman Catholic church were merely present, including Archbishop of Paris André Vingt-Trois. But one cannot speak of any joint service or worship in this case," Fr Alexander stressed. (tr. by PDS, posted 6 June 2008)

Source: Russia Religion News

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