"A world without God, without absolute moral values rooted in divine revelation, irrevocably turns into the realm of the rule of slavery and lawlessness." —Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, head of the Department of External Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church, Moscow Patriarchate, in an address at a conference in London yesterday
The Russian theologian Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev is a leader of the Russian Orthodox Church who has become well-known in Orthodoxy, and among Christians worldwide, for his theological learning. His words of warning alert us to the importance of being aware of what is occuring in Europe and in the US today with the removal of Christian symbols and Christian teachings in the public and private life of the West, and of the world, which proceeds apace, year after year, decade after decade.
His witness is particularly compelling because he grew up under communism, in the Soviet Union, where, in a Soviet atheist school, his teacher once tore the cross from around his neck when she noticed the chain beneath his shirt collar. He recounted how an airline employee in Europe was forced to remove her cross, in the name of tolerance, peace and harmony in society.
In other words, an anti-Christian incident that he experienced as a boy, when his teacher tore a cross from his neck, is in some way similar to what happens in "democratic Europe" today, when people are "forced" to remove a cross "in the name of tolerance, peace and harmony." In this perspective, the modern European Union (EU) has become, in some ways, similar to the old Soviet Union (USSR).
The warning that Alfeyev is issuing is that the post-Christian society the West has been busily constructing for the past several generations, a society based on moral relativism, and rejection of the customs and traditions of our past, has no future, but leads to a dead end.
"Today on the continent of Europe there is taking place a conscious and consistent deconstruction of the system of values upon which for centuries the lives of our ancestors was built," Alfeyev said. He continued: "Values are meant to help build up a just world, but it is impossible to build this world on the basis of an ideology that views the world without God and without faith. A world without God, without absolute moral values rooted in divine revelation, irrevocably turns into the realm of the rule of slavery and lawlessness."
These few brief summary remarks do not do justice to Alfeyev's talk, given at a symposium of "Christian Values in an Age of Globalization." The talk is worth reading in its entirety: https://mospat.ru/en/2014/02/22/news98737/