Some thoughts From Patriarch Kyril

Recently Patriarch Kyril gave a homily about Wolves in Sheeps Clothing. In it he made the following comments:

“When we meet a man who claims to be fighting for the purity of Orthodoxy, but in his eyes is lit the fire of anger, someone ready to shake the foundations of Church life to defend orthodoxy, if we do not find love and find anger, this is the first sign of that we have a wolf in sheep’s clothing,” the Patriarch said in his Sunday sermon at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior. “In the eyes of these people you will not find love; they shine with the fire of pride. The most important criterion for evaluating any Church leader — from a Patriarch to a simple layman — is ‘love’ because ‘where there is love, there is Christ.'”

There seems to be a scary trend in Orthodoxy today towards polemics. Over the last century much has been accomplished in the dialogue between the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Church. This mutual understanding is, very unfortunately, slowly being uprooted by ignorant characterizations by laity and clergy alike on what the other believes. Recently I even heard it said that Catholics believe that “Mary is the 4th part of the trinity!” Mis-characterizations like this are not loving at all, but instead result to base attacks for the benefit of “Orthodoxy,” which is really their ego.

As a convert, I know how easy it is to “evangelize” (more like proselytism actually) my protestant friends by pointing out how Orthodoxy is NOT Roman Catholicism. Unfortunately, these critiques are often straw-men, used to puff up my ego and excuse my laziness in not taking the time to practice charity and listening.

Instead of spending all of our time trying to point out our differences and standing hand in hand with Protestants (which as a whole movement has produced more heresies in the 20th century than any other century before it) why not stand hand in hand with the Church that still believes in the efficacy of prayers for the dead, prayers to the saints, veneration of iconography, saints, and miracles. Who still, despite some failures in synthesizing Greek philosophy have still maintained the Apostolic Faith and who most of all, as a whole, practice charity, chastity, and love for neighbor.

Perhaps the best way forward is not to look at a bitter past, but instead to re-aquire the Hermeneutic of Love that Pope John Paul II advocated. It is only through this lens that we can come to see our differences not as in conflict, but complementary, as the Fathers of the Church for the 1st 1000 years of Christian history saw each other.