A while ago, I posted about the German Protestant Church electing their first female leader. Well, it turns out that this is a sign of our moral downfall.
Russian Orthodox breaks ties with Protestants over female leader
The Russian Orthodox clergy is threatening to cut ties with Germany’s Protestants for electing a divorced woman, Margot Käßmann, as the head of their church.
Dialogue between the churches, which has been strong and steady for the past 50 years, was no longer possible because of Käßmann’s election, said Rev. Georgy Zavershinsky, spokesman for the Russian church’s office of external relations in Moscow.
The church permitted no ordination nor even leadership roles for women, he said.
"This question is very serious," said Zavershinsky.
Ultimately, the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Cyril I, would have to rule on the matter, he said.
In late October, Käßmann, 51, was elected to lead Germany’s Protestant church, or Evangelische Kirche Deutschland (EKD), for the next six years. She is the mother of four children but was divorced from her husband in 2007.
However, it appears to be the fact of her being a woman, rather than a divorcee, that the Russians object to.
The leader of the Russian church’s foreign office, Hilarion Alfeyev, Archbishop of Volokolamsk, said the planned celebration of 50 years of dialogue between the two churches, scheduled for late November, would be the last contact between them, according to the Russian daily, Kommersant.
The end of co-operation between the churches appeared to have the backing of Russian media on Thursday, with one paper, Vremya Novostei, writing that "the Patriarch must not deal with the new leader of the German Lutherans."
Many conservative Protestants in Russia also supported the decision. Alexander Prilutski, the leader of the Protestant church of Ingria – a Christian denomination based around St Petersburg – called Käßmann’s election a "sign of crisis in Western society."
Käßmann said late on Thursday she was surprised by the Russian reaction.
"Ecumenism means accepting different churches and appreciating their offices," she said.
She recognised that some churches did not accept women leaders but called for them not to impose their standards on others.
“Mutual respect is the most important basis for ecumenism,” she said.
Comment by lied_ohne_worte: Actually, ties have since indeed been cut; sadly, I wasn't able to find a more recent article in English. An interview with a Russian Orthodox leader in the print edition of Der Spiegel included the following interesting tidbits of information:
- The Russian Orthodox leaders had magnanimously offered to continue contacts, if they could talk with the previous (male) leader instead of Käßmann. This offer, surprisingly, was not liked.
- The functionary interviewed stated that they would seek to strengthen their ties with Rome instead, as they were closer in many respects anyway.
- German Protestants in general are supposedly far too much into secularism. He named as particularly objectionable: churches giving blessing services to gay people, abortion not being categorically considered a sin, and naturally the ordaining of female clergy.
Personally? I say good riddance. If they cannot accept the Protestant Church doing something that is allowed within Protestant rules and can't bear talking to someone with a vagina, the "dialogue" might not have been that "strong and steady" in the first place. And I'm very glad they didn't cave and let them talk to a man, as that would have been incredibly damaging to all efforts towards equal rights that were made during the last few decades.