Rorate Caeli

"The difference of this pope from his predecessor..."

Another interesting statement from Bishop Hilarion, formerly of Vienna, now of Volokolamsk, successor of the now-Patriarch Kirill as head of the Moscow Patriarchate's Department for External Church Relations. Emphases mine. I have not corrected the grammatical errors, and I am posting this without comment!

This is the latest in the series of statements from the Moscow Patriarchate in support of Pope Benedict's policies. (See this in support of Summorum Pontificum, this one on the lifting of the excommunications of the SSPX bishops, and the latest on Pope Benedict and condoms.)

06 April 2009, 12:09

Moscow, April 6, Interfax - Refusal of Pope Benedict XVI to use politically correct language and offer compromise on traditional issues of Christian ethics has gained support of the Russian Orthodox Church.

"The difference of this current Pope from his predecessor is that this Pope never watches for political correctness in his statements. This is the reason why his statements sometimes produce shocking effect on the Western society: people there are not used when the Church's Head voices a traditional standpoint of the Church," Bishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk, a new head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations said at a live broadcast of National Interest program shown Saturday on Rossiya TV Channel.

That was Bishop's comment of criticisms aimed at the Pope, also by the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs, for his opposition to contraception.

Bishop Hilarion continued that "we view this as a positive shift in the Catholic Church's position, because head of the Church, in particular, head of the largest Christian Church, should not adapt himself to any PC language, he should tell people what his Church teaches him to tell them."


  1. I'm starting to like the Russians...

  2. He is so right!

  3. Interesting indeed but even more so ironic in that we have a Russian Orthodox clergyman supporting Pope Benedict XVI while many RC bishops do not. Methinks it is yet another example of the diabolical disorientation spoken of by Sr. Lucy.

  4. ... this Pope never watches for political correctness in his statements.

    That's over-stating the case just a bit. Just wait until the May visit to Israel.

  5. I admire and honor Pope Benedict XVI too. But this criticism is neither true nor fair to the late JPII.

  6. A very fair critique - there was too much phenomenology in the last papacy and an excess of personalism. The fact the Pope Benedict XVI is highly unpopular with the masses is an encouraging sign already.

    The internationally mediatised papal circus of the years prior to 2006 was utterly embarrassing. Some of the public statements & images were dubious at best and downright scandalous at worst. No wonder The Russian Orthodox Church kept a healthy distance from Rome. It is on public record that Alexy (RIP) considered the Summorum Pontificum the most significant act of this papacy. The lifting of the excommunications on the traditional Roman Catholic bishops of the SSPX Confraternity was probably the second most noteworthy but that is only a personal perspective on my part.

  7. A very good point Paul Haley - a very significant number of the NO bishops are abandoning their charade of holding the moral high ground on "obedience to the pope" for the what it has always been in effect, exploitation of the mechanisms of post-conciliar collegiality in order to become like those "eastern despots" feared by St Paul. Traditional bishops and clergy with the Russian Orthodox in obvious empathy with Pope Benedict XVI: this is the true picture. NO obedience was forever a mere facade in any case, of which Cardinal Suenens was a symbol rampant.

  8. quirinus2:10 PM

    LeonG wrote: The fact the Pope Benedict XVI is highly unpopular with the masses is an encouraging sign already

    If St.Peter's square - which i visit regularly - and pastoral vistis to Rome's parishes are any indicator, I would hesitate to say that Pope Benedict is "unpopular" with the "masses", since his numbers are steadily higher than those of John Paul, and the same goes for Apostolic Journeys.

    Benedict is only unpopular with the press, the modernist intellighentsja and probably with the more obtuse segments of the so-called traditionalism.

  9. So where is the glowing adulation of the ecumaniacs? This Pope does more for true ecumenism by his mere actions then his predecessors were able to accomplish with teams of committees sitting at conference tables, and yet there is not a word spoken about divisions being healed. Obviously the problem here for those who promote ecumenism is that it isn’t the Church who is making any concessions to those in error this time. Rather it is our estranged brethren who are coming to the defense of Christ’s vicar when he teaches the truth which all should clearly recognize. Just as Our Lord “came unto his own, and his own received him not,” so it is coming to be for our Holy Father. He is quickly becoming the most reviled man of our time simply because he is showing the courage to wield the Keys of the Kingdom in the manner with which they were entrusted to him. Benedict XVI is a “Good Friday Pope” at a time when the world needs one. I pray that his years are many and that he will be able to endure for Christ’s sake the scourging that our enemies will bestow upon him.

  10. Prodinoscopus reminds us of the irritating but truthful area of real concern.

    The Pope has been a truly great Pope, and has advanced the recovery of the Faith in many areas.

    However, the terrible neo-Judaizing tendency in the episcopacy and the Curia, and the explicitly heretical notion of an "eternally valid Mosaic covenant (!)", which has been publicly taught by several Cardinals and actually temporarily published in a national catechism (may God defend us), is one area where we are skating too close to the line for comfort.

    Not much room left for maneuvering here.

    Certainly we must examine and correct anti-Semitic tendencies, provided "anti-Semitism" is actually and correctly DEFINED, as opposed to being wielded, like a talismanic club of guilt-inducement, so as to heretically redefine the meaning of the Incarnation and the New Covenant itself.

    If the price of reconciliation with the Jews is the repudiation of the Faith, then the price is too high.

    My prayers are with the Holy Father as he prepares for his journey to the Holy Land.

  11. Anonymous5:11 PM

    It has been the desire of many hearts that the Church 'breathe with both lungs'.

    May it please God to bring about the union of the Orthodox and Catholic as m uch as possible under the primacy of the Pope.

    And may be soon be welcoming th traditional Anglican communion as well.

  12. An interesting statement. This tends to support my view of where things are going. From a comment I left on an Orthodox blog ( recently where the blogger expressed serious doubts about a meeting between the Pope and the Patriarch of Moscow...

    I am not quite convinced that there will be no meeting. There are a variety of reasons why one seems more likely than not IMO. Both Moscow and the Ecumenical Patriarchate want better ties with Rome, though for very different reasons.

    The EP is on the edge of extinction. +Bartholomew presides over a See of barely a thousand worshipers, excluding his vast overseas ecclesiastical colonies. The Turkish government is overtly hostile to the EP and wants him to just go away. It is not clear if they will even permit the election of a successor. The EP is somewhat understandably looking for some help and protection. Rome would offer that. Restoration of communion with Rome would do two things for Bart. It would ensure that the Turks think twice before exerting any more pressure on the EP since that would be tantamount to attacking the Catholic Church. And secondly it would cement (for good or ill) Bart's place in history for taking the big step towards ending the schism between East and West.

    Moscow's motives are much different but they still want warmer relations with Rome. There is something close to zero interest in the Russian Church in restoring communion with old Rome. They understand that things have gone too far for that. But they do grasp that the Roman Catholic Church is the world's largest church. And that means it can't be ignored.

    Further Pope Benedict XVI is one of the best Pope's Rome has had in a very long time. And he is also the friendliest to Orthodoxy. Put bluntly, Benedict is a world class theologian and he gets Orthodoxy in a way few if any of his predecessors ever did. He has very good relations with and counts as personal friends some of the best and brightest among Orthodox theologians, including Met. +Iakovos of Pergamon (who was assigned that very amusing caption in the photo you posted) and the new Patriarch of Moscow +Kyril.

    Moscow also sees Rome as a powerful ally in its goals of combating the twin threats of militant secularism and Islam. Whatever theological differences we have with Rome, we are clearly on the same page when it comes to the great moral and ethical issues of the age. Rome and the MP have the same goals here.

    The differences between Russian Church and the Rome (uniate questions etc.) are not nearly as serious as some have made them out to be. And perhaps most importantly Pope Benedict wants these issues resolved as much as Moscow does.

    Finally Moscow and Rome want this meeting for yet another reason. Moscow does not want the EP to be the de facto leader of the Orthodox world in relations with the non-Orthodox, which they currently are. A meeting with the Pope would be an excellent opportunity to lay out a truly Orthodox approach to relations with the Roman Church that would not include a precipitous rush to restoration of communion.

    Rome wants the meeting because they understand the EP's real status (its canonical one being neither here nor there) in the Orthodox world. The Holy See realizes that they can not do business exclusively with the head of a thousand worshipers who is little more than a Turkish prisoner while ignoring the world's largest and most important Orthodox Church. The EP can sign anything he wants to. If the Russian Church isn't on board then it’s not worth the paper it’s written on, and Rome knows this.

    All things said, I think a meeting is more likely than not. And given the Pope's age and concern over how long he will reign (may God grant him many years) my guess is that Moscow will not throw any unnecessary wrenches into these negotiations. After all we don't know who the Romans will get as their next Pope.

    Under the mercy,

  13. I find odd the implication that JPII was a servant of left-wing PC mongers, and that he was loved among the secular chattering clases. Feminists HATED JPII with a passion, and many said things like "John Paul hates women" and other such nonsense. When JP II was old and frail, he was savaged in the press for being "out of touch", foolish, and even delusional.

    Let's remember the actual JPII, not a caricature created by his critics on the right wing.

  14. I venerate St. Pius X. I support Pope Benedict XVI. And I respect the memory of Pope JPII. If he had not dealt with Liberation theology in the way that he did, then our boys will be fighting in almost all the Catholic countries in Central America, Asia and Africa today as those would have fallen into a Catholic-Marxist ideology that will use violence to advance justice and build the People's Church. And Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe would have been behind the Iron Curtain. And there would have been a massive exodus from the Catholic Church into Protestant Church as it would have become unresponsive to the modern world. So, let us not spit on his grave, shall we?

  15. Anonymous8:54 PM

    There is no need for exodus to the Protestant Church since 1970..You may stay right whrere you are. I believe that is something that this Beloved Hoy Father is trying to correct. And if successful it may very well then that we see the exodus. Bringing the liturgy back inline with our centuries past seems a much more plausible option and eventual communion with the Orthodox than the foolish attempt to water down the Catholic faith and marching head on into the Protestant faith. It has brought very little to the faith and alienated so many millions. I do not think reunion with the Orthodox would have these effects. The last Pontificate may have brought many good things into the world but its' jet set focus only consumed ecumenical relations and obscured the real intentions of renewal within the Church and correcting the rampant abuses we have witnessed for decades.

  16. If the Church is indeed a boat, I think it is reasonable to say a substantial course correction has been made, but we have a very long way to get back to our original course and the sails have yet to be fully let out.

  17. Anonymous11:19 PM

    I like his comment so why not Pope Benedict tell the Russian Orthodox Church about the dogma EXTRA ECCLESIAM NULLA SALUS ( OUTSIDE THE CHURCH ,NO SALVATION) He needs to know this before his death in schism!!!!

  18. he fact the Pope Benedict XVI is highly unpopular with the masses is an encouraging sign already.

    The masses? All that is on evidence now is his unpopularity with certain Western elites.

    Benedict is still pulling big numbers with his audiences.

    Not that I would argue that this should be about popularity. Only that we shouldn't assume that Alain Juppe or Andrew Sullivan somehow represent what most Western Catholics think about the Pope.

    The Russians were bound to like Benedict more than John Paul just for the simple fact that he is a German and not a Pole. But there is clearly more going on here - not least how seriously Benedict takes the liturgy.

  19. Thank you, Rick (10 April, 2009 17:05). You have said much better what I've been trying to say in this and other recent threads on this blog. (Apparently the blogmeister mistakes me for some kind of troll.) I agree with you that Pope Benedict XVI is a great Pope in many ways, certainly the best that we have had in the past 40 years. Yet the fact remains that Bishop Hilarion's claim that the Pope "never watches for political correctness in his statements" is demonstrably false. Just wait for the papal visit to Israel in May; I fear that it will be a veritable PC-fest.

  20. Jonathan3:42 PM

    We must remember JPll came from a Church in Poland that had been a bulwark against Soviet Communism the Russian orthodox church was never such a bulwark. JPll was a man of exceptional ability and faith as well as a Slav like the Russians. JPll was not politically correct he helped change peoples hearts BXVl can build on this and improve how we worship - lex orendi lex credendi - renewal of the liturgy is very much due to the renewal of faith under JPll

  21. David Mills4:55 PM

    As several people have said, the patriarch is unfair to Pope John Paul II. It is not "political correctness" to try to be heard by emphasizing some aspects of a multi-faceted truth more than others. It also ignores the question of whether Benedict could be doing what he is doing if John Paul II had not done what he did.

    And before Catholics get too excited about a compliment from the Russians, notice that the patriarch couldn't say something kind of Benedict without criticizing his predecessor. This is typical of a kind of mean-spiritedness you see in Orthodox treatments of Catholicism. He and his peers are only going to come so far in our direction, and aren't likely to relax their condemnation of the Catholic Church for its alleged errors and sins.

  22. Anonymous6:05 PM

    Jonathan: How was the Church a "bullwark" against communism in Poland?

    Also, when I read comments like yours, I have to wonder if we belong to the same Church.

    You must be very young.

  23. Pope Benedict XVI isn't going to be martyred for upholding the Church's ban on contraception, an issue on which he enjoys the broad support of conservative Catholics and can count on the predictable opposition of the usual liberal suspects. No, the martyr's crown is reserved for that future Pope (not this one) who follows in the footsteps of St. Peter and boldly preaches Jesus Christ, and Him crucified, in the Temple and the Synagogue.

  24. John,

    Very well said.

    As to the EP in Constantinople, what will happen? Will Turkey risk an embarrassment of international proportions when the EP cannot find a replacement due to the anti-Christian culture and attitude of the Turks? Especially when Turkey is trying very hard to enter the E.U.?

    I pray that the EP survives and is allowed to open their seminaries, reclaim church properties, and grow!

    Maybe even as a goodwill gesture and good PR, the Turkish government can return the Hagia Sophia back to the Orthodox?

    One can only pray and hope.

  25. Unfortunately, quirinus, you do not understand that the "crowds" in St Peter's Square in Rome are mostly Catholic. Also, while "obtuse" traditional elements may not like the current pope,it is patently clear that masses of so-called modern catholics do not like his appeal to orthodoxy - viz-viz no articial birth control, no abortion, no euthanasia and no sodomy. This together with a return to normal liturgical ritual embodiment, signification and reverential attitudes. While it may take time for the "penny to drop", so to speak, this Holy Father is disliked by masses of such illiterate modern catholics who want a church that conforms to the spirit of the age. They thought they were getting it under the last two substantial pontificates but to their utter disillusion The Faith is ultimately not to be sold in this manner.

    Put that alongside the mass manipulating media you talk about and there you confirm what is being stated. This is where most people get their information.

    Furthermore, to address another overexaggerated remark here, no one is spitting on the grave of John Paul II (RIP). However, in the face of some misguided adulation and the current pathology of instantaneous sanctification that exists within our push-button immanentist liberal establishment, there are some documented realities concerning the last papacy in our chaotic and disorientated modern church that need to be addressed first. This statement made on behalf of Russian Orthodoxy cannot be overlooked in this respect.

  26. Anonymous6:04 AM

    Look it is not political maneuvers which will convert the RO to the Catholic Faith, it is the explicit consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart, which the pope and the Church's bishops world wide will do shortly, when the heavy hand of the Lord's justice strikes the nations and brings the hierarchy to its knees, whence they will see that the Immaculate Heart of Mary is the only refuge and means of salvation given to the World for this age!

    Br. Alexis Bugnolo

  27. Anonymous7:42 AM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  28. (This is a revised version of my earlier comment)

    "We must remember JPll came from a Church in Poland that had been a bulwark against Soviet Communism the Russian orthodox church was never such a bulwark."

    It is with sadness that we should acknowledge that the Russian Orthodox Church is in schism from the Catholic Church, of which the Vicar of Christ is the visible head. Prayers for true reunion must be pursued with vigor, and the truth of Catholicism preached without fear.

    Nevertheless, to say that the Russian Orthodox Church did not fight against communism is to sin against the truth. The fact that it is in schism from the Catholic Church does not entitle us to overlook the good that the Russian Church has done in this regard. I don't have the exact citation with me now, but if I remember aright even Pope Pius XII paid tribute to the Russian martyrs (not just the Russian Catholic martyrs).

    From 1918-1920, Russia was convulsed by a civil war, as anti-Communist forces tried in vain to dislodge the Bolsheviks from power -- a fact that is passed over in silence or in only a few words by many history textbooks. This civil war cost some 15 million lives (majority due to Communist depredations), followed by millions more deaths due to the after-effects of the war. To say that the Russian people accepted Communism passively is a massive libel. The even bloodier Stalinist purges of the 1930's and the early 1950's, and the Nazi massacres in the Ukraine and Russia in the 1940's, took care of what resistance to totalitarianism was left.

    During and long after the civil war, the Russian Orthodox Church lost hundreds of bishops and as many as 200,000 priests, nuns and monks to the Communist executioners, while thousands of churches and monasteries were blown up. More than a million Russians fled to the West, among them the best and brightest of their Church. And to remind the Orthodox that the post-Stalinist "liberalization" was not for them, a new wave of persecutions from 1961 to 1964 deprived the Russian Orthodox Church of some 2/3 of its open churches and clergy.

    The subservience of the Moscow Patriarchate from 1944 to 1990 to the Soviet state should be seen through the lens of this level of terror and persecution, unparalleled in the annals of Christendom. In fact, I think it says much about the Russian Orthodox that the Soviets had to first kill the vast majority of their bishops and priests and religious before they could be definitively made to cooperate with the Soviet state. The church that let itself be used by the KGB was a church shorn of its best, bereft of its wisest and bled of its most courageous.

    At any rate, various actions taken by the Moscow Patriarchate in 1990, 1991 and 2000 may be considered as definitive retractions of its collaboration with the Soviets.

  29. Rick, Ryan, Jonathan and David Mills;

    Did you actually READ the article? One of you attributed the opinions of Hilarion to "the patriarch", so I guess there wasn't enough attentiveness...

    The opinion of Bishop Hilarion is that Pope Benedict NEVER looks for PC-talk, in contrast to his predecessor. That does not mean that the bishop is implying that Pope John Paul II ALWAYS used PC-talk, and is certainly not "spitting on his grave."

    No one is denying that Pope John Paul II courageously fought many of the currents of world opinion, not to speak of the culture of death and the rising tide of secularism.

    However, to affirm that is not to be blind to the fact that, sometimes, Pope John Paul II said and did things that looked like concessions to the demands of the age. Assisi 1986? Legalizing female altar servers? Kissing the Quran and allowing dubious liturgical practices even into papal Masses? Too much sensitivity in dealings with the Muslims, (certainly when compared with Benedict XVI, who at least is stronger in demanding reciprocity)? The list could go on and on. One need not be an "ultra right wing Catholic" to acknowledge that these happened.

  30. Carlos,
    Thanks for your comment. I can not think of any church which has suffered persecution on such a level. Even after what was left of the visible church was brought under the iron heel of the Communist regime, two aspects of it remained free, the underground church in Russia and the Russian Church Abroad. Both kept the flame of Orthodox Christianity alive during the reign of terror.

    Under the mercy,

  31. Anonymous3:48 AM

    The list could go on and on. One need not be an "ultra right wing Catholic" to acknowledge that these happened.

    Amen to that. My beef with JP2 is that he let faithful Catholics suffer under the jackboots of liberal Bishops and Priests...and yes, it's true.

  32. I'll add that "right-wing Catholic" is simply a perjorative term for Catholics plain and simple, who believe as the Church has always believed.

  33. conte rezzoni3:10 PM

    "I can not think of any church which has suffered persecution on such a level."

    as the catholic Irish, catholics in England and catholic Poles in czarist Russia would have suffered less in the centuries...

  34. No persecution beats that of the Catholics of Japan.

    JPII did exhibit very poor judgment in many cases. However, I don't think that the uprightness of his motives can reasonably be called into question. Also, I think that the discrepancy between Liberal and Traditionalist renderings of history speaks volumes: To the Traditionalists, the rot set in with John XXIII; Paul VI came close to apostasy, and JPII was an inane waffler who didn't know the first thing about Catholicism. But to the Liberals, John XXIII was the only good Pope the Church has ever had; Paul VI was an evil reactionary who undid all that the 'Good Pope' had striven for, and JPII was even worse, coming close to re-establishing the Inquisition.

    Obviously, both accounts can't be true.

  35. And in fact neither account is correct, though the caricature of the "traditionalist" view is a lot closer to the truth than the "liberal" view.

  36. "No persecution beats that of the Catholics of Japan."

    If one speaks in terms of raw numbers of dead, the Russian death toll remains unsurpassed among recorded and already finished persecutions in modern history. To state that fact is in no way to belittle the sufferings of our fellow Catholics through the centuries.

    Of course, the death toll from the persecution of Christians of all kinds in China since 1949 has not yet been reckoned, so the rankings may yet change. God knows how many Catholics have been killed for the faith in China.

    If one speaks of all Christian history, there are indications that Timur the Lame's massacre of the Nestorians, Syrians and Armenians in all the lands he conquered may have been the bloodiest persecution of all time, although the evidence is not definitive.

  37. Anonymous11:50 PM

    The following double-agency is due to the inherent defect of the Eastern schismatics and their rejection of papal primacy and the resulting caesarpapism. It is this same caesarpapism that produced a culture that made possible the advent of the Soviet totalitarian state.The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Alexy II, died at 79 on December 5, 2008 at his residence at the fashionable Moscow suburb of Peredelkino from heart failure.

    During his 18-year patriarchy, which coincided with the collapse of the USSR and difficulties of the post-communist transition, the Russian Orthodox church was transformed from the persecuted and tightly controlled "legal counterrevolutionary force," as defined by Soviet authorities, to a symbol of Russia and an integral and important part of its ruling elite.

    His controversial legacy reflects the tragic history of Russian people and their church, and his official image as defender of faith and savior of the Russian soul is tarnished by allegations of his being a KGB agent and the Soviet government's assistant in the destruction of the church.

    Read more here:

  38. Anonymous3:28 AM

    Congratulations to Archbishop Hilarion on his elevation to archbishop on Bright Monday.


Comment boxes are debate forums for readers and contributors of RORATE CÆLI.

Please, DO NOT assume that RORATE CÆLI contributors or moderators necessarily agree with or otherwise endorse any particular comment just because they let it stand.


(1) This is our living room, in a deeply Catholic house, and you are our guest. Please, behave accordingly. Any comment may be blocked or deleted, at any time, whenever we perceive anything that is not up to our standards, not conducive to a healthy conversation or a healthy Catholic environment, or simply not to our liking.

(2) By clicking on the "publish your comment" button, please remain aware that you are choosing to make your comment public - that is, the comment box is not to be used for private and confidential correspondence with contributors and moderators.

(3) Any name/ pseudonym/ denomination may be freely used simply by choosing the third option, "Name/URL" (the URL box may be left empty), when posting your comment - therefore, there is no reason whatsoever to simply post as "Anonymous", making debate unnecessarily harder to follow. Any comment signed simply as "Anonymous" will be blocked.

Thank you!