Saturday, May 14, 2016
Interesting perspectives on the meeting between Francis and Kirill
Those who, like this writer, tend to look at Francis with a jaundiced eye might do well to remember that like the Vatican recognition of the State of Palestine this initiative to meet with Kirill did not originate with the current pontiff. A meeting between the Pope and the Moscow Patriarchate has been in the works for many decades.
Here are a few noteworthy perspectives on the meeting, from both the Orthodox and Catholic positions.
From this writer's perspective this meeting, whether or not it was "historic" in the exact meaning of that word, can be viewed in a strongly positive sense, as long as an historical perspective is kept. Some writers have tried, in imitation of the US government, to present this meeting as a political game being played by Moscow, and many, whipped up by the current anti-Russian mania, have adopted this position. Calling it political is not tenable. Whether or not one thinks it a good idea for these two to meet it is almost comical to define it as political in nature, especially given what has been happening in the world of late.
I must add that I am a bit at a loss to explain Archbishop Shevchuk's extreme disappointment with the document that was signed. Given the history of this tragic schism it is not clear to me what could have been gained, right now, by the Pope speaking in specifics about the religious tensions in Kiev currently. This is an extremely delicate matter and the situation is not helped either by Orthodox railing against "the Vatican" for supporting "the Nazis" in Kiev, nor is it helped by Catholics claiming, ridiculously, that Moscow has invaded Ukraine. Even Sandro Magister, who should know much better, has fallen for this particularly dangerous piece of US propaganda. This writer emailed him recently after he had stated the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a fact. I had asked him, I believe with kindliness and all seriousness, if he could point me to some authoritative sources supporting the claim that Russia had actually invaded Ukraine, with tanks and armies in tow. His response to me was that since Crimea was "annexed" by Russia recently, that should be evidence enough of Russia's intentions. A non-answer if ever I heard one, especially since he failed to add that the people of Crimea voted, in an internationally-monitored election, to rejoin Russia, which it had historically been a part of for over two centuries.
But Shevchuk's intervention has allowed some to suggest that Ukrainian Greek Catholics have been officially abandoned by Rome. Firstly, Rome has been doing quite a bit of abandoning of late, mostly the abandoning of faithful Catholics who want to hear eternal truths once again from the mouth of a Pope. Abandonment of Catholics to the wolves is old news in a Vatican infested with Modernism. However, in this case we don't see this as an abandonment of Ukrainian Catholics, at least not yet. Some blogs, which go off half-cocked at times, have pronounced this as an abandonment but we could not disagree more. As much as we might have wished it this meeting was not the time for a Pope to stand up to Kirill and rail against him over the situation in Ukraine, or tell him he is going to hell if he doesn't become Catholic (though I doubt Francis even thinks anyone will go to hell). A more delicate approach is needed at this stage, and considering the world seriously begins to look like it is on the brink of a new world war it might be better for Catholics and Orthodox to work together to avert such disasters. The Blessed Virgin, I am sure, has her eye on this situation.
It is well known that Russian Orthodox leaders have a clearer view of the menace of sodomy than Francis has. On this topic Francis sees no evil, speaks no evil and hears no evil. But the Russian Orthodox are far clearer and far more fearless in their denunciations of this contagion. If nothing else comes of this meeting perhaps in the two hour private discussion the two had, Kirill might have educated our confused Pope on the danger of the Advance of the Sodomites. It is not far-fetched, in my view, to think that this may have come up in their discussions.
Numerous Orthodox blogs are astute enough to see that Pope Francis is a disaster, a liberal who cavalierly trashes simple expressions of piety and two thousand years of deeply held Christian belief. I am glad they recognize this problem. That is in this writer's opinion a good sign.
I am not so naive that I think that some of the well-known and loudly expressed hatred of Catholicism by many of the Orthodox will end any time soon. A hatred that old will not be eliminated by a meeting between a Patriarch and a dicey Pope. But as they say, every journey has to have a beginning, even if the leader of the Catholic journey keeps trying to go in the wrong direction.