Mixed reaction to pope’s retirement announcement: The Church of England Newspaper, February 17, 2013 p 7. February 22, 2013Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Roman Catholic Church.
Tags: Anglican Centre in Rome, Benedict XVI, David Richardson, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Olav Fykse Tveit
The news of the announcement of the retirement of Pope Benedict XVI has drawn mixed reactions across the globe. Ecumenical, Orthodox and Anglican leaders have praised released statements praising the pontiff. However, a spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church noted that while he understood the reasons for the retirement, it nonetheless left him uncomfortable.
The Director of the Anglican Centre in Rome, the Rev. Canon David Richardson told The Church of England Newspaper he was “at first shocked by the news but, after a few moments reflection, it occurred to me that one should not really be totally surprised.”
“I had read last year the interview ‘Luce del Mondo’ and noted the Pope’s statement there that ‘when one has a clear awareness that one does not possess the physical, mental and spiritual strength to continue one has the right, and in some cases the duty, to step down.’ Therefore one might say that the highest authority, Pope Benedict himself, had already served notice of the possibility of today’s events,” he observed.
Canon Richardson stated that “each time I have seen the Pope recently – and the last time was 25th January when I mentioned to him that I myself am to retire in April – I have been conscious of his increasing physical frailty.”
“It is however of course an unprecedented step that he is taking and for that one can only admire the strength and the courage of the Holy Father. I am sure that Pope Benedict will value the opportunity and the space to study, to write and to pray that this decision will afford him. His scholarship has arguably always been his greatest gift to the Church and after 28th February he, like that other great Christian leader and theologian, Rowan Williams, who laid down the office of the Archbishopric of Canterbury only five weeks ago, will have the opportunity in new ways to put that gift at the service of the Church.”
It remains to be seen what the announcement will mean for Anglican-Catholic relations, Canon Richardson added. ARCIC III is “proceeding well” and Benedict’s support for the Anglican Ordinariate shows “how much common ground there is between us.”
“All that said, a great deal obviously will depend on Pope Benedict’s successor,” Canon Richardson said.
The Moscow Patriarchate’s head of the Department of External Relations, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, told the ITAR-TASS news agency: “Really, there have been no precedents of this kind in the modern history of the Roman Catholic Church. Pope John Paul II remained in office to the end despite his serious health problems.
However, Hilarion added that being pope is “not a ceremonial office. If one’s age and health prove to be an obstacle for effective work, the head of a Church may decide to retire. In recent years, the Catholic Church has come to face very serious challenges which require new incentives to come from the See of Rome. Perhaps, precisely this has made the pope to give way to a younger and more dynamic prelate to be elected by the conclave of cardinals. The Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to leave his office in the present situation may be seen as an act of personal courage and humbleness.”
Former Daily Mirror editor and television commentator, Piers Morgan, scoffed at the news of the retirement, writing: “As a Catholic, I’m not buying this. Popes don’t just quit because they’re tired. What’s going on here??”
The general secretary of the World Council of Churches, the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit released a statement saying “we have to respect fully the decision of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to resign.”
“With deep respect I have seen how he has carried the responsibility and burdens of his ministry in his advanced age, in a very demanding time for the church,” Dr. Tveit said in New York, asking for prayer that “God bless him in this moment and this phase of his life, and that God will guide and bless the Roman Catholic Church in a very important time of transition.”
Anglican-Orthodox relations near death, Moscow warns: The Church of England Newspaper, December 2, 2012 p 6. December 7, 2012Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Russian Orthodox, Women Priests.
Tags: Justin Welby, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk
Women bishops, gay marriage, and other innovations of doctrine and discipline will end meaningful Anglican-Orthodox relations, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations (DECR) has warned.
At a 26 Nov 2012 meeting in Moscow, Ambassador Tim Barrow and second secretary James Ford met with leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church. According to the official press statement “Metropolitan Hilarion greeted the Ambassador and shared his reminiscences of his student years in Oxford and his impressions of the recent visit to London where he attended celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Sourozh diocese.”
They also discussed the situation of Christians in the Middle East and North Africa, the role the Russian Orthodox and Polish Catholic Churches had played in reconciling the “peoples of Russia and Poland” and the state of “Orthodox-Anglican relations at present” – which the Moscow Patriarchate said were at a nadir.
On 13 Nov, Hilarion wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury-designate, Bishop Justin Welby, offering his greetings upon the Bishop of Durham’s appointment as 105th Archbishop of Canterbury. However, Hilarion said meaningful Orthodox-Anglican ecumenical dialogue had all but died, and it was the Anglicans who have killed it.
In a carefully worded letter, Hilarion stated Moscow expected Bishop Welby to discipline the liberal wing of the Anglican Communion. Bishop Welby had been “entrusted with the spiritual guidance of the entire Anglican Communion, a unique union of like-minded people, which, however diverse the forms of its existence in the world may be, needs one ‘steward of God’ the guardian of the faith and witness to the Truth.”
“Regrettably, the late 20th century and the beginning of the third millennium have brought tangible difficulties in relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Churches of the Anglican Communion,” Hilarion said.
“The introduction female priesthood and now episcopate, the blessing of same-sex ‘unions’ and ‘marriages’, the ordination of homosexuals as pastors and bishops – all these innovations are seen by the Orthodox as deviations from the tradition of the Early Church, which increasingly estrange Anglicanism from the Orthodox Church and contribute to a further division of Christendom as a whole,” he wrote.
First published in The Church of England Newspaper.