2009-12-10 17:23:00

Woman halts dialog between Russian Orthodox Church and German Evangelicals

Moscow, December 10, Interfax - The Russian Orthodox Church is not prepared to continue dialog with the Evangelical Church in Germany in the previous format but may discuss current disagreements, says a letter from the head of the Moscow Patriarchate Department for External Church Relations Archbishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk to head of the Evangelical Church in Germany Margot Kaessmann and the head of the Evangelical Church Department for Ecumenism and External Contacts Martin Schindehutte.

"Although we did not recognize clergy in Protestant communities and did not call those communities 'Churches', we had contacts with some of them in the Church-to-Church format," the letter reads.

"Yet the situation changed with the election of a woman as the head of the Evangelical Churches in Germany. That called into question the continuation of the previous communication format," according to the note.

Despite 50 years of dialog with the Orthodox Church, "the other side has chosen a path which drastically enlarges the gap between our traditions," the Archbishop said.

"We have to take into account the opinion of our believers who call absolutely inadmissible meetings with representatives of a Church led by a woman," the Archbishop said.

He regretted that the new administration of the Evangelical Church in Germany unilaterally cancelled celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the dialog with the Russian Orthodox Church.

"As time passes, it will be possible to discuss the situation calmly," Archbishop Hilarion said. He offered to visit Germany next spring for the discussion.