Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Orthodox-Catholic Collaboration vs Liberal Humanism in the Post Modern World

An extremely interesting interview has been posted at Inside the Vatican in which Bp. +Hilarion discusses a wide range of issues including the threats posed by secularism and liberalism as also militant Islam in Europe and the rest of the world. I have never read anything by Bp.+Hilarion that did not leave me deeply impressed. This interview by the redoutable Robert Moynihan has been no exception.

Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev
The Need to Act

Bishop Hilarion, who is Russian Orthodox, was born in Moscow, studied at Oxford, and is presently the Russian Orthodox Bishop for Central Europe based in Vienna, Austria

By Dr. Robert Moynihan

INSIDE THE VATICAN: A major conference involving Catholics and Orthodox is scheduled to take place in Vienna in early May. Can you tell us something about the background of this conference, and its chief purpose?

BISHOP HILARION ALFEYEV: The theme of the conference is "Christian Values in Europe." The initiative to organize this conference belonged to Metropolitan Kirill, chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate. Invited are distinguished Church leaders and theologians from the Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches. There will be about 25 participants on each side.

The discussion on Christian values acquires special relevance and urgency in the context of the process of globalization, which is affecting more and more of the world's population.

Globalization is a multi-dimensional, multi-faceted and multi-layered process. It exerts influence on the world as a whole and on separate countries and regions, on the entire human community and on concrete human beings. It affects politics and economics, morals and law, the sciences and arts, education and culture.

Globalization leaves its imprint on practically all areas of human endeavor, with the possible exception of one: religion. Today only religion is systematically resisting the relentless attack of globalization, entering into an unequal battle to defend those values it considers fundamental and which are being challenged by globalization.

Only religion is able to counter the ideology of globalization with its own system of spiritual and moral orientation based on the centuries-long experience of generations acquired during the pre-globalization age. In the modern battle for values, people find themselves more often than not on opposite sides of the barricades, with those inspired by religious ideals on the one side and those whose world-view is formed by secular humanism on the other.

At the core of the modern globalization ideology is the humanistic idea of the absolute dignity of the human person and of the existence of universal, "common human" values, which are proposed as the foundation of a single world civilization. By "common human" values, however, are understood not only those spiritual and moral tenets which are common to all religions or which are equally obligatory for both religious and non-religious people ("thou shall not kill", "thou shall not steal", "thou shall not bear false witness", etc.), but also many ideas that are questionable from the religious point of view and which are rooted in liberal-humanistic morality. To this latter group belong, in particular, the affirmation of the right of each individual to his or her own way of life, which extends insofar as it does not cause harm to others. From the viewpoint of humanistic morality, the only limitation on human freedom is the freedom of other people: the moral person is one who does not harm the interests of others, while the immoral person is one who infringes upon their freedom. The idea of absolute moral norms as well as the notion of sin are completely absent from modern humanistic ethics.
Read the rest here...
Hat tip to the blogger Mark of Ephesus.

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