“This year, the celebration of the Day of the protection of creation is accompanied by the sound of weapons in Ukraine, by the cry of the victims of military violence, the bombardment of cities and infrastructures, the groaning of nature and moaning of refugees. Every war is a humanitarian and ecological catastrophe. The ongoing violence, beyond the thousands of human lives, also destroys the natural environment that it pollutes, forcing nations and peoples to return to ways of securing energy efficiency through means that are unfriendly to the environment. Thus, humanity enters a new vicious cycle of destructive impasses, which confirm the saying that homo sapiens to this day continues to behave simultaneously as homo demens, as imprudent and irrational.
4) Regarding Patriarch Kirill
The spiritual head of the world’s Orthodox Christians said on Wednesday [speaking in the Parliament of Lithuania, March 22, 2023] that Russia’s powerful Orthodox Church shared responsibility for the conflict in Ukraine but that he stood ready to help in Russia’s postwar “spiritual regeneration”. Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew’s comments are a rebuke for Russian Patriarch Kirill, whose full-throated blessing for Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine has splintered the worldwide Orthodox Church. Bartholomew, who in 2019 infuriated Moscow by recognising the newly established Orthodox Church of Ukraine, said Russian authorities were using the Church as an “instrument for their strategic objectives”… “The church and the state leadership in Russia cooperated in the crime of aggression and shared the responsibility for the resulting crimes, like the shocking abduction of the Ukrainian children.”
These are the Patriarch’s words, reported in “The Orthodox Times”, October 22, 2022.
“It would not be possible for all the Churches not to condemn the violence, the war. But the Church of Russia let us down. I did not want the Church of Russia and Brother Patriarch Kirill to be this tragic exception. I don’t know how he can justify himself to his conscience. How he’ll justify it, how history will judge him. He had to stand up for himself. Because one can object to being pressured by President Putin. He should react to the invasion of Ukraine and condemn the war as all the other Orthodox Primates did.
“He did not; that is to his detriment and I am very sorry. We may have had other differences, the one known for the Autocephaly of the Church of Ukraine, the one we have had for centuries because the Russian Church covets the primacy of Constantinople, and undermines the foundations of the throne of Constantinople, but I expected brother Kirill at this critical, historic moment to rise to the occasion.
“If it is required to even sacrifice his throne, and tell Putin, Mr. President, I cannot agree with you, I resign, I leave. Or put him in jail, I don’t know what President Putin would do if the Patriarch reacted to his plans, but that is what we, the other Primates, would expect.”
5) Abortion and Homosexuality
So far as I can find, his last comment on this subject was on September 9, 2013, at a Vespers in Tallin. Estonia: “… to… the Orthodox Church, the partnering of the same sex is unknown and condemned, and they condemn the contemporary invention of ‘mutual cohabitation’, which is the result of sin and not the law of joy, and by their actions the ‘females exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error’ (Romans 1:26-28)”.
However, after the Archbishop of America recently baptized the adopted child of a gay couple in Greece, the Patriarch did not allow the subject to be discussed at the Synod of Constantinople.
The Patriarch has emphasized what causes women to have abortions. For example, his statement when speaking in San Francisco in 1990: “Although the Orthodox Church believes the soul enters the body at conception and, generally speaking, respects human life and the continuation of the pregnancy,” Barthlomew said, the Church also “respects the liberty and freedom of all human persons and all Christian couples . . . . We are not allowed to enter the bedrooms of the Christian couples. He added. “We cannot generalize. There are many reasons for a couple to go toward abortion.” (San Francisco Chronicle-7/20/90p.A22)
Or from his book, Conversations with the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I: “As for abortion, this is always profoundly dramatic for a woman and deeply injures her femininity. For this reason, abortion for the sake of convenience is (we cannot deny it) extremely serious and must be strongly discouraged. But there are situations of extreme distress when abortion can be a lesser evil, as, for example, when the life of the future mother is in danger.”
However, he says he has read and gives his Patriarchal endorsement to the Greek Orthodox Church’s recent significant commentary on social issues For the Life of the World, which includes the following: “A human being is more than the gradually emergent result of a physical process; life begins at the moment of conception. A child’s claim upon our moral regard then is absolute from that first moment, and Christians are forbidden from shedding innocent blood at every stage of human development. The Church recognizes, of course, that pregnancies are often terminated as a result of poverty, despair, coercion, or abuse, and it seeks to provide a way of reconciliation for those who have succumbed to these terrible pressures.”
It is obvious that the Patriarch has given less attention to these two issues. Why? I don’t know. Some say it is because he personally is pro-abortion and pro-gay. However on those grounds the same charge could be leveled against Our Lord Jesus Christ who, so far as we know, said nothing at all about either of them.
Next Week: I’m not sure, but I think I’ll write on What I’ve learned from being an interim pastor in my old age.