Expert: Rejection Of Cuban Meeting Caused By Apocaliptic Expectation Of Certain Faithful



What has become a reason of some faithful’s rejection of the fact of the Cuban meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill  and their joint declaration itself? What can be the consequences of it? A Belarusian theologist, a Master of Ecumenical studies of Geneva University Ivan Kuks answers these and other question of

Orthodox bishops and Patriarchs are regularily meeting the Primate of the Catholic Church. Constantinople Patriarchs had participated in numerous joint services with the Pope. Even Patriarch Kirill, while being a Metropolitan and being the head of the foreign ecclesiastical relations, met with the pontiff. Why iit is the Cuban meeting that faced such a rejection?


It should be noticed that the Cuban meeting had met such rejection in several regions of Russia and Eastern Europe. One can also remember negative reactions of some believers, first of all in Greece, towards the meeting of the Consantinople Patriarch with Roman Pontiffs. While alking about this specific meeting, it had been generally well accepted in the Christendom, and only in Eastern Europe and Russia one can witness issues of such a rejection for several reasons: religious fundamentalism tied with apocaliptic expecatations of the part of the faithful, rejection of the “uniatism” wordings of the Cuban declaration on behalf of Greeek Catholics, not speaking about the Patriarch of Moscow himself being considered a primate of “the enemy” in taoday’s Ukrainian-Russian conflict.

How topical are the regulations refered to by the opponents of the Cuban meeting today? What are they afraid of?

Sometimes the opponents of the Cuban meeting are referring to some ancient Church canons which ahd allegedly been violated by the fact of the meeting itself. A small but considerable number of the faithful to perceive this meeting in the context of their apocaliptical views. It seems to me, that a resulting rejection is based on a deep subconcious fear of losing one’s self-identification, self-recognition which are often built on the anagonism to everything coming form the West. Though in the modern Western context the Catholic Church is a very consrvative institution, in these circles it is perceived as a fully “western”, thus causing mistrust. Generally speaking, the problem of the religious fundamentalism is a problem of a negative reaction to the globalization process on the whole, and Christian ecumenical relations are perceived as a specific part of that process.

The fact that such criticism emerged in Russia is not very surprising: Catholic presence is small there and many hadn’t seen a Catholic in there lives. But why it is growing in Belarus (the letter of Fther Superior Amvrosi and calims of Archbishop Hury that in case of joint services with Catholics “one won’t be able neither to serve nor to pray in such “Church””, etc.), where Catholics had been present for a long time in all regions, not mentioning Navahrudak diocese, where joint prayers for Christian unity are made by the representative of Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant priests?

Probably, the criticsm itself on behalf of Belarusian Orthodox clergy is caused by the fear of restoration of the unia, though it one may argue how well-grounded this fear is today. It seems, that such instances as the letter of a Slonim Father Superior are single, thus not demonstrating a serious wave of criticism among the Orthodox clergy, the majprity if which has a seemingly positive attitude towards it.

The Cuban meeting’s opponents are making reference to the gathering of the Local Council of the ROC, but as father Andrey Kurayev notes, the ROC doesn’t have a mechanism of the Council called by the initiative of the lower members. Does it mean that in the end such claims may bring a schism to the Russian Orthodox Church?

It seems to me, that the threat of a chism in the ROC is still existing. Quite recently, about 10 years ago, a cahin of scandals was caused by the activities of Diomid, the Bishop of Chukotka. On e of the central poitns of his criticism were ecumenical relations of Russian patriarchs. That is why it seems that one can still talk about a certain number of convinced opponents of ecumenical relations. The convocation of a Local Council may prevent the threat of a schism on the one side, but on the other side it cannot eliminate it fully.

Interview by Maksim Hacak