Monday, February 25, 2008

Russians Slam Archbishop Rowan Williams

Church of England Newspaper

The Russian Orthodox Church has slammed the Archbishop of Canterbury for his remarks over Sharia law, saying the head of a Christian Church should not be promoting the tenets of non-Christian religions.

While church leaders in Britain have rallied to his defense, Orthodox, Lutheran and Roman Catholic leaders abroad have been less charitable in their remarks. The Feb 7 interview with the BBC and his subsequent speech at the Temple Church on certain aspects of Sharia law, have elicited sharp comments from overseas Anglican and Christian leaders, while Dr. Williams' subsequent explanation, that his remarks were misunderstood, appears not to have appeased his critics.

Speaking to the opening session of the World Council of Churches' Standing Committee meeting in Geneva on Feb 14, the Russian Orthodox's representative to ecumenical organizations, Bishop Hilarion of Vienna and Austria said "many Christians around the world are looking up to Christian leaders with hope that they will defend Christianity against all the challenges it faces."

"Our role is not to protect Sharia law, to glorify an alternative style of behavior or to preach secular values. Our sacred mission is to announce what Christ announced, to teach what his disciples taught," he said.

"Politically correct Christianity will die," said Bishop Hilarion. "We have already been watching the process of liberal Christianity's gradual decline as newly introduced moral norms lead to splits, discrepancies and confusion in several Christian communities," he said.

The head of the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) told German radio on Feb 16 there must be a single law for all citizens, regardless of race or religion.

Dr. Wolfgang Huber, Bishop of the Evangelical Church of Berlin-Brandenburg-Silesian Upper Lusatia and Chairman of the Council of the EKD said the premise behind Dr. Williams' remarks was flawed.

"Hoping to achieve integration through a dual legal system is a mistaken idea," Dr. Huber told Deutsche Welle. "You have to ask the question as to what extent cultural characteristics have a legitimate place in a legal system. But you have to push for one country to have one system."


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