Russian Orthodox spokesman counsels against ecumenical prayer

Moscow, Mar. 5, 2008 ( – A leading spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church has recommended against ecumenical prayer initiatives, the AsiaNews service reports.

Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin, the deputy director of external affairs for the Moscow patriarchate, tossed cold water on hopes for restored Christian unity, telling the newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta that “nowadays no one speaks seriously about reunification.”

The Orthodox cleric made it clear that he was giving his own opinion, not presenting an official policy of the Moscow patriarchate. And he said that “visiting Protestant and Catholic churches, taking part in religious functions by other confessions, or praying before relics considered holy by all Christians are acceptable.” But he recommended against common prayer.

The archpriest said that the World Council of Churches has a valid purpose in promoting shared Christian interests in public life. But the idea that that body could represent a unified Christian Church, he said, is “increasingly distant.”