The head of the Russian Orthodox Church attacked the Church of England’s “liberalisation” at a meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury earlier this week.
Patriarch Kirill raised “serious concerns” with Justin Welby over the Anglican Church’s decision to ordain women and its increasingly modernist stance on sexuality and family values.
In a report after the meeting, Patriarch Kirill’s press service said: “The patriarch drew the Archbishop of Canterbury’s attention to the fact the Russian Orthodox Church is seriously concerned by the liberalisation of the Church of England’s teachings, particularly on the ordination of women as priests and bishops and on morals and family issues.”
“His Holiness Kirill expressed hope that the Church of England will oppose challenges of the modern world and seek to preserve the Gospel’s teaching,” it added.
The Church of England did not mention the patriarch’s comments in its own report of the meeting, although it did say the two men discussed “the challenge of proclaiming the Gospel of Christ in a secular culture”.
The meeting came at the end of a four-day trip to Britain, during which Patriarch Kirill also met the Queen and reconsecrated a Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Knightsbridge, London.
The trip is seen by some as an attempt to boost the Russian Orthodox Church’s global profile as the country’s government comes in for increasing criticism for its intervention in Syria.
In 2013, Metropolitan Hilarion, who is in charge of external affairs for Russian Orthodox Church, said that dialogue between his church and the Anglicans had become largely pointless thanks to the latter’s embrace of liberalism.
“I regret this, but dialogues with Protestants and Anglicans which we have had for decades are now under threat because of processes taking place in the Protestant communities of the West and North,” he said, adding: “I mean the continuing liberalization in the field of theology, ecclesiology and moral teaching.”