Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Anti-Semitism in the Orthodox Liturgy?

From the Jerusalem Post.

A group of 12 Orthodox priests have called on their Church to review its longstanding theological positions toward Jews and the State of Israel, and to excise anti-Semitic passages from its liturgy.

The dissident priests made their demands in a 12-point declaration adopted during a weeklong visit to Israel that is meant to spur debate in the Orthodox Christian world and to challenge centuries-old anti-Semitic views.

"Sadly, there are some Orthodox Christians who propagate disgusting anti-Semitism under the banner of Orthodoxy, which is incompatible with Christianity," said Rev. Innokenty Pavlov, professor of theology at Moscow's Biblical Theological Institute.

"We have to raise our voices and call on Orthodox laity and the Church leadership to formulate an official position of the Orthodox Church toward our relations with Judaism, as it was formulated a few decades ago by the Catholic Church," he added, referring to the Second Vatican Council of 1962 to 1965...

...Unlike the Catholic and Protestant churches, the Orthodox Church has never removed anti-Semitic passages from its liturgy, which still refers to Jews as Christ killers, said Dr. Dmitry Radyehsvky, director of the Jerusalem Summit, a conservative Israeli think tank that co-sponsored the visit.

He said the anti-Semitic passages were most conspicuous during Easter services, and included statements such as "the Jewish tribe which condemned you to crucifixion, repay them, Oh Lord," which is repeated half a dozen times, and "Christ has risen but the Jewish seed has perished," as well as references to Jews as "God-killers."

Read the rest here.

As a side note I attended most of the services during Great and Holy Week as also the Pascha Liturgy. I don't remember any of these words or hymns being sung. I also think its worth noting that the priests in question are clearly referred to as dissidents. That casts an instant cloud over their credibility. One is even identified as belonging to an "Ecumenical Orthodox Church." Translation he is at least schismatic and quite probably a heretic.

Having said all this I will concede with some pain that in a few corners of the culturally Orthodox world, antisemitism is alive and at times it has been abetted by members of the Church. I think the various Orthodox Churches would do well to formally condemn this noxious bigotry in no uncertain terms.


William Tighe said...

I have not been able to find the names of the 12 Orthodox priests who have signed this statement. Have you seen them?

On a related matter, a woman whom I knew at Yale, now a respected professor, left the Orthodox Church in a manner related to this. She had been brought up completely irreligiously, although of a Jewish background, found Christ as an undergraduate in the context of a very liberal Episcopalian college chaplaincy, famous at the time for being involved in the struggle for women's "ordination" in ECUSA before it had become "canonically possible." She became an Episcopalian, but later became Orthodox, and was an orthodox Orthodox. However, years later she broke up the marriage of a fellow professor (a liberal Catholic) and afterwards married him. He thought of becoming Orthodox, but he was upset by the "anti-Semitism" of some of the Holy Week Orthodox services. Finally, they distributed a leaflet or paper at one of these services at the OCA cathedral which they attended demanding that these offensive portions be removed, and were physically ejected from the building as a result. Eventually, she rejoined and he joined ECUSA, and within a short time she, like her "husband," became not only a strong proponent of WO but of SS (= sanctified sodomy) as well. I was unaware of this turn in her thinking until, just after the 1998 Lambeth Conference she responded to my forwarding to her an e-mail applauding its bishops' resolutions on that topic, to which she replied by a really frothing denunciation of their action. Assuming that it was a kind of joke, I replied jestingly; but it was all too serious, and we got into a great internet row about the matter, at the end of which she declared that she never wished to hear from me again and would delete unread ant e-mails that I might send to her in the future. So I think that it would be well worth the while to look at these 12 priests, their views and their good standing closely, especially as one of them is purportedly a priest of the "Ecumenical Orthodox Church" -- a body of which I have never heard but of which the name has an ominous ring: it might well be the name of the "emperor's church" in Vladimir Soloviev's "A Short Tale of the Antichrist."

Anonymous said...

Abbot Innocent Pavlov is the head of
MP external relations and protoge of St Barzanufrius

Anonymous said...

As a member of an Antiochian Orthodox parish I sadly note a lot of anti-semitic attitudes in the ethnic Arab Christians in our diocese. I have given up on discussions of Middle East issues with church people. I know these matters are complicated and Israel is not perfect (I am no dispensationalist) -- but I am continually amazed to hear Christians spouting essentially the same vitriolic Jew-hatred as the Muslims do. E.g. the Palestinian situation (if not every problem in the world) is entirely the Jews fault, Hamas is not a terrorist group but is simply trying to help the poor Palestinians, suicide bombings are "understandable" due to the terrible mistreatment of the Pals by the Jews, etc. etc.

Anonymous said...

But the Greeks are even worse than that. They describe their ghettos as
"homogeneity" and themselves, even when they are born here and citizens, as "expatriates." In their services, they pray for the "Greek nation and American people" because they refuse to consider a non-homogenenious country a nation. And they have this evil saint, Cosmus Aitalius, who advocated ethnic cleansing.

Ad Orientem said...

Please refrain from anonymous attacks on saints and the like. I am allowing the above post to remain. But its pushing the envelope. If your going to make that kind of an attack you need to be prepared to attach your name to it.