Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev challenges WCC

Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev

When the World Council of Churches (WCC) opened its international central committee meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, in February, delegates heard a passionate plea for orthodoxy from a Russian Orthodox bishop.

According to The Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD), Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev, the Russian Orthodox bishop of Vienna and Austria, stepped up to a microphone and boldly challenged the assembled delegates.

"I would like to draw your attention to the danger of liberal Christianity. The liberalization of moral standards, initiated by some Protestant and Anglican communities several decades ago and developing with ever-increasing speed, has now brought us to a situation where we can no longer preach one and the same code of moral conduct," he said. "We can no longer speak about Christian morality, because moral standards promoted by ‘traditional' and ‘liberal' Christians are markedly different, and the abyss between these two wings of contemporary Christianity is rapidly growing."

Bishop Alfeyev specifically derided the acceptance of abortion and homosexuality by some Protestant denominations.

"What, then, is left of Christianity? In the confusing and disoriented world in which we live, where is the prophetic voice of Christians?" he asked. "What can we offer, or can we offer anything at all to the secular world ... as a value system on which society will be built? Do we have our own value system which we should preach, or should we simply applaud every novelty in public morality which becomes fashionable in the secular society?"

The WCC meeting was celebrating the group's 60th anniversary.