Friday, February 15, 2008

Orthodoxy, Western Europe, and Sharia Law

The uproar over recent comments made by Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams regarding Islamic Sharia Law in Great Britain has subsided - but only somewhat.

For those interested in what was said, one of many news accounts is available here and the text of his lecture is here.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion of Vienna, who represents the Moscow Patriarchate in Western Europe, reflected on these events in a recent address covered by the news agency Interfax:

Geneva, February 14, Interfax - The values of other religions, just as secular ones, should not be advocated by the heads of Christian Churches, said Bishop Hilarion of Vienna and Austria, who represents the Russian Orthodox Church at European international organizations.

"Our role is not to protect Sharia law, to glorify an alternative style of behavior or to preach secular values. Our sacred mission is to announce what Christ announced, to teach what his disciples taught," Bishop Hilarion said at the opening of a session of the World Council of Churches (WCC)'s Central Committee in Geneva.

He was commenting on a recent statement by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams that it was inevitable that several aspects of Sharia law will have to be included in British law. His speech caused a public uproar in the UK.

"Many Christians around the world are looking up to Christian leaders with hope that they will defend Christianity against all the challenges it faces," Bishop Hilarion said.

He also criticized ‘liberal’ and ‘politically correct’ Christianity which Protestant and Anglican communities started promoting several dozens years ago. The Russian Church’s representative said that the gap between ‘traditional’ and ‘liberal’ Christianity grows so dramatically that today it's impossible to speak about one moral system preached by all Christians.

‘Politically correct Christianity will die. We have already been watching the process of liberal Christianity’s gradual decline as newly introduced moral norms lead to splits, discrepancies and confusion in several Christian communities,’ the bishop said.