In my earlier post, “Weekly Reading,” I made mention of Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev’s (Russian Orthodox Church (ROC)) recent comments to the ongoing to the Catholic Church’s “Extraordinary Synod on the Family.” Instead of staying on point concerning the need for Catholics and Orthodox to hold a common front against modern secular culture, the good bishop of Russia used his address to attack the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church (UGCC) — a common theme for Russian prelates these days (see, e.g., here and here). An Orthodox friend of mine humorously likened Hilarion’s words to “a drunken best man saying something wildly inappropriate during the toast.” The Catholic web-log The Rad Trad posted a facetious agreement with Hilarion’s call to abolish “Uniatism.”
Regrettably, however, there still exists an unfortunate number of traditional Catholics (and some neo-Catholics) who have no compunction about fawning over the ROC and “Neo-Holy Russia.” Granted, there are some wonderful things about the ROC, particularly its liturgical patrimony and iconographic tradition. I have known — and still know — a good number of fine folks who belong to either the ROC or one of its “relative churches.” They may not see eye-to-eye with me on ecclesiastical and theological matters, but they are far from being promoters of xenophobia and bigotry. That’s true of many Orthodox Christians I know. As such, I want to make clear that when I write of the missteps, nay, idiocy of the ROC, I do not intend it as a swipe against faithful Orthodox believers. At the same time, however, it is necessary to make clear that the ROC is not a friend of the Catholic Church and will not be a friend of the Catholic Church until such time as it ceases its mad assault against our brethren in Ukraine. While we should hope and pray for the day when East and West, including the separated Oriental churches, are one, that is not a license for false romanticism. The ROC has drawn its line in the sand. Catholics now know where it stands without question. Are we sure we know where we stand?