The Czech priest and philosopher Tomáš Halík has condemned the “corrupt leaders” of the Russian Orthodox Church in the course of a striking address to Lutheran church delegates.
Delivering the keynote speech at the thirteenth assembly of the Lutheran World Federation in Kraków today, Halík warned that “the marriage of Church and State deprives the Church of its future”.
He said that the Moscow Patriarchate’s allegiance to Vladimir Putin’s regime had implicated it in the “attempted genocide of the Ukrainian people”.
“The global ecumenical community cannot be blind or indifferent to this scandal,” he said.
Halík compared the invasion to the Nazi annexations of the 1930s, saying that the world must not “succumb to the illusion that agreements and compromises can be made with dictators” but recognise a moral duty to stop a bad actor – “to knock the murder weapon out of his hand”.
“To love the enemy means, in the case of an aggressor, to prevent him from doing evil, [as] Pope Francis teaches in Fratelli tutti.”
Halík said the Russian Orthodox Church’s position illustrated the perils of Christianity entering “culture wars” which “deepen the process of ex-culturation and secularisation”.
In his speech on the assembly’s theme “One Body, One Spirit, One Hope”, he argued for a “new reformation” which would exceed all denominational and religious boundaries to recognise a unity “with all human beings and all forms of life on earth” in the oikumene – the Greek term for the inhabited world which the root of “ecumenism”.
Such reform, he said, was necessitated by the “crisis” of globalisation.
“Global interconnectedness at the level of economics, transport and information will not create an oikumene, a common home, by themselves,” he said.
“No ideology, not even ‘Christian ideology’, can replace the missing spiritual dimension of the globalisation process.”
Halík was a key figure in Czechoslovakia’s underground church under communism after he was secretly ordained in 1978, building a network of dissident contacts to prepare for the return of democracy. John Paul II appointed him an adviser to the Vatican’s Council for Dialogue with Non-Believers in 1992.
The Lutheran World Federation has 149 member churches, representing around 75 million Lutherans worldwide.
Read Halík’s full address here.
An adapted version appears in this week’s Tablet here.