For Moscow Patriarchate, Orthodox and Catholics should join efforts to defend the traditional family

Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev of Volokolamsk called on the Catholic Church to join Orthodox efforts to meet the challenges facing the traditional marriage.

Oct 23, 2015

MOSCOW: Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev of Volokolamsk called on the Catholic Church to join Orthodox efforts to meet the challenges facing the traditional marriage.

The metropolitan, who chairs the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, is currently attending the General Assembly of the Synod on the Family in the Vatican where he has met Pope Francis.

"The Orthodox Church, like the Catholic Church, has always in her teaching followed Holy Scripture and Sacred Tradition in asserting the principle of the sanctity of marriage founded on the Saviour’s own words. In our time this position should be ever more strengthened and unanimous," Metropolitan Hilarion is quoted by Interfax as saying yesterday.

The Orthodox and the Catholic Churches should not only confine themselves “to well-intentioned appeals but should by all means possible ensure that the family is legally protected", he added.

This should include a dialogue with the legislative and executive branches of government in various countries, as well as international organisations like the United Nations and the Council of Europe.

For the Metropolitan, "The authorities of some European countries and America, in spite of numerous protests, including those by Catholics, continue to advocate policies aimed at the destruction of the very concept of the family.”

In fact, “They not only on the legislative level equate the status of the same-sex unions to that of marriage but also criminally persecute those who out of their Christian convictions refuse to register such unions”.

Noting that US President Barack Obama openly declared that gay rights were more important than religious freedom immediately after the visit of Pope Francis to the United States, Hilarion said, "This clearly testifies to the intention of the secular authorities to continue their assault on those healthy forces in society which defend traditional family values.” The latter include "Catholics” who “are found at the forefront of the struggle".

However, back in Russia, despite government policies in favour of the traditional family, the Soviet legacy still weighs heavily. In fact, since the collapse of the Communist regime in 1991, the divorce rate has remained one of the highest in the world. Even the man in the Kremlin is divorced.

Russia’s divorce rate stands at around 70 per cent. Sociologists believe that a rate of 25-30 per cent is an alarming percentage because it disrupts the family and society. Cheating is the main reason for marriage breakups, which for most Russians (two thirds) is as bad as homosexuality.

Russia’s divorce law is simple. Couples can got to the Marriage Office for annulment. If the breakup is not consensual, the parties are required to present some minimal grounds.

Meanwhile, polygamy has become front-page news this year following the wedding of a senior police officer in Chechnya to an underage girl, who became his second wife with the blessing of Chechen leader and Putin crony, Ramzan Kadyrov.

Although the Kremlin has distanced itself from the controversy, the Orthodox Church has almost justified the practice, which is widespread in predominantly Muslim Chechnya and Russian Caucasus.

"It is curious that the circles who now criticise polygamy, which de facto exists in the North Caucasus, are often favourable to marriage between homosexuals,” said Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, chairman of the Synodal Department for the Cooperation of Church and Society of the Moscow Patriarchate.

Whilst insisting that the Orthodox Church does not accept polygamy, because marriage is regarded as the union between one man and one woman, Chaplin admitted that there are different traditions in the world. “How they can co-exist in one state and in the modern world is an issue that must be addressed in a serious discussion, especially at the legislative level."--Asia News

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