As long as we're giving people honorary Caveman-ships...
I've heard mixed reviews about Metropolitan Kyrill, now the new head of the Russian Orthodox church, but this recent interview is kind of awesome. Relevant excerpts:
SPIEGEL: Crime and corruption were rampant after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Murder, robbery and fraud became mass phenomena. Wasn't this a defeat for the church?
Kyrill: Reviving morality is a long process. We also see high crime rates in other countries. Besides, Russia faced massive social changes. Our economy was in ruins, foreign influence was growing and so was the consumption mentality, the focus on performance, all of these postmodern ideas which treat everything as relative and no longer require us to distinguish between truth and lies.
Hmm. Economy in ruins, growing foreign influence, consumption mentality, postmodern ideas, communism... this sounds familiar somehow. I wonder why...
SPIEGEL: It sounds as if the present is no better than the past, in your opinion.
Kyrill: The church should have taken time to regenerate. We were weakened by atheism, and then we were faced with a double burden. We were like a boxer who walks around for months with his arm in a cast and is then abruptly shoved into the ring, accompanied by shouts of encouragement. But there we encountered a well-trained opponent, in the form of a wide variety of missionaries from America and South Korea who tried to convert the Russian people to other faiths. Religion was also marginalized by a secular way of thinking.
Weakened by atheism, check. Marginalized religion, check.
SPIEGEL: You are referring to the liberal West. What troubles you, for example, about homosexuals marching through the streets of Moscow in a parade, just as they do in Berlin or Amsterdam?
Kyrill: It distorts the boundary between good and evil, between sin and sanctity. Even adultery is apparently no longer considered a sin, despite the fact that every adulterer senses that he has done something wrong. But human beings have a conscience. That's something even the Marxists were unable to eliminate. They had an explanation for everything, a self-contained philosophy in which being determined consciousness -- just as your philosophers in Germany say, the conscience is the result of cultural development. But whether you are in Papua New Guinea, Munich or Novosibirsk in Siberia, the principles are the same everywhere: Thou shall not steal, though shall not kill…
SPIEGEL: … but not everyone says: Thou shall not be gay. Why should people have to conceal their homosexuality?
Kyrill: The Bible calls it a sin. But we do not condemn these people. The church is opposed to these people being persecuted or offended. But why should sin be propagated? The gay parade is a blatant display of sodomy. In that case, we might as well promote other sins, as has long been the case on television. This degenerates public morality. It is the church's job to call a sin a sin. Otherwise it no longer serves a purpose. Unfortunately, the tendency in today's world is to champion the freedom of choice, while freedom from evil is virtually forgotten.
SPIEGEL: It's human for a person to be homosexual. How can something that is human be a sin?
Kyrill: And what, in your opinion, is adultery -- something good or something bad?
SPIEGEL: This decision lies within the conscience of every individual.
Kyrill: We aren't talking about just any decision. We are talking about morals. They want us to believe that morality is relative. But that's completely untrue. The communists said that good is what is good for the working class. That was relative morality -- and 60 million people were exterminated. Hitler claimed that what is good is what is good for greater Germany. That too cost millions of lives. Morality is either absolute or it doesn't exist at all. If you can justify homosexuality, why not pedophilia?
Kyrill: Dostoyevsky wrote that God and the devil are fighting for control in the heart of man. Nowadays many pursue the logic that everything they want ought to be good and justified. We are too quick to treat emotions that ultimately harm us as natural needs. When moral foundations are shaken, we unleash our instincts. But released instincts belong in the animal world.
SPIEGEL: We like to argue. But you can't possibly characterize homosexuality as an animal instinct?
Kyrill: Instinct is not a term with negative connotations. Take hunger, thirst, the sex drive, for example. If God had not given us these instincts, man would not exist. The difference between men and animals is that men can control their drives.
SPIEGEL: Could you envision a reunification of the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Church, which have now been separated for close to 1,000 years?
Kyrill: The division is a consequence of human sin. In this respect it resembles a divorce. The Christian West and the Christian East parted ways because they believed that they didn't need each other anymore. Reunification can only be achieved through spiritual rapprochement. It doesn't matter how many documents we sign. Unless we have the feeling that we love each other, that we are one family, and that each member needs the other, it will not materialize.
Now, he talks earlier about how he feels the Latin rite has made some mistakes in regard to science (geocentrism is specifically mentioned), which I don't think is fair since NO ONE believes that anymore and everyone makes mistakes and false assumptions. But I think an effort to at least talk is desired by both parties, which is a good sign.
SPIEGEL: When will the long-awaited meeting between Pope Benedict and the head of your church, Patriarch Alexy II, take place?
Kyrill: Our relations have improved since Benedict became pope. He has removed the issue of a visit to Moscow from the agenda. This sort of visit would not have solved any problems, but it would have provoked new ones. Many of the faithful in Russia mistrust Catholics. This is a legacy of the wars and of proselytization efforts in the 17th and 18th centuries.
SPIEGEL: Could you imagine the pope and the patriarch meeting in a third country, essentially on neutral ground?
Kyrill: It's certainly possible. The entire development in bilateral relations is moving in the direction of such a meeting coming about.
Well, Patriarch Kyrill, it's all up to you now.