Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Patriarch Kirill and Russian Orthodoxy Deserve Respect Not Insults: An Open Letter to George Weigel

As longtime friendly colleagues in the pursuit of a faithful Christian public moral witness in America, we are profoundly saddened and shocked at your unfounded, insulting accusations against the moral integrity of the senior leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church since the Ukrainian crisis erupted in February 2014.

The initial broadside appeared in your column in the Denver Catholic Register on March 18, 2014, when you dismissed Patriarch Kirill of Moscow as "duplicitous" and Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfayev), chairman of the Department of External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate, as "mendacious.” We take increased umbrage at the steady escalation of your Szechuan ad hominem prose since then:

  • “These [Ukrainian Greek Catholic] bishops, like other western Christians, have not been duped by the extraordinary campaign of lies that has issued from the Kremlin these past seven months, but . . . all of us who cherish the spiritual patrimony of Russian Orthodoxy. . . are deeply saddened when you and Metropolitan Hilarion, your chief ecumenical officer, amplify the falsehoods of President Putin and Foreign Minister Lavrov.” [June 17, 2014]
  • “Russian Orthodoxy’s leadership today functions as a Kremlin mouthpiece in matters Ukrainian, even as it lies about the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church’s role in the current crisis and betrays its ecumenical commitments in doing so. . . . [February 17, 2015]
  • “Serious ecumenical theological dialogue is impossible with men who are acting in the world as agents of Russian state power. Pretending otherwise emboldens the Russian Orthodox leadership.” [August 4, 2015]
The condescending, hubristic tone of those comments is surpassed in offensiveness only by your resort to uncharitable epithets—liars, mouthpieces, and dupes—which hardly constitute a reasoned argument. It is well-nigh impossible in this “open letter” to defend Patriarch Kirill and Metropolitan Hilarion from your omniscient pretense to know their hearts and minds. However, we shall attempt here to set the record straight by accurately citing and explaining their public positions on the Ukrainian crisis. 

Read the rest here.

Update: I draw the reader's attention to a response posted here.


Anonymous said...


jacopo.saracini said...

Weigel is accusing hierarchs of the Russian Church of being mouthpieces for the secular interests, in this case, Putin's government? That's cheeky.

A link to the list of Policy Advisory Board members for the Ethics and Public Policy Institute, of which Weigel is a Senior Fellow, is quite telling. The list of purported donors (e.g., Koch Brothers) to the institute is informative as well. It's all a complicated web of neocons and foundations built on MIC, pharmaceutical, and oil fortunes, among others. I can understand that fighting communism is probably in these donor foundations' charters, but the Soviet Union is no more. What gives?

If Francis doesn't say some nice things about private property on his U.S. visit, Weigel may pen another piece about why Catholics don't have to pay attention to the Pope.