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MOSCOW (RNS/ENI) The election of a woman as head of Germany’s Protestant churches threatens ties with the Russian Orthodox Church, a high-ranking official of the Russian church has warned.
Archbishop Hilarion, who oversees external relations for the Russian Orthodox Church, said ties with the Evangelical Church of Germany are threatened by the recent election of Bishop Margot Kassmann, a Lutheran, as chairwoman of the German church.
Hilarion said on Nov. 11 that the 50th anniversary of dialogue between the churches could also be the end of relations.
“I think that the 50th anniversary of this dialogue will become simultaneously the end of this dialogue, because I don’t see the possibility of it continuing now in those forms in which it existed,”
Hilarion said. “And one of the reasons for this is that a woman has become the head of this church.”
“We don’t recognize the ordination of women; we don’t recognize female bishops, but we were ready not to close our eyes to this, but to continue dialogue, even though this wave of ordination of women existed in the Lutheran Church in recent years,” he said.
“But when a woman becomes the head of a church, this results in even simple questions of protocol,” said Hilarion. “How will the Patriarch address her and meet with her? Will he congratulate her on holidays?
Will he address her as bishop, or how?”
In a reply sent to Russian Patriarch Kirill I, Kassman and Bishop Martin Schindehutte, who heads the German church’s foreign relations department, expressed “surprise and incomprehension” over “inappropriate” statements by leaders of the Russian church.
Kassmann and Schindehutte said different views about the ministry of women in churches had previously been “no barrier to fruitful inter-church relations on a bilateral and multilateral level.”
By Sophia Kishkovsky
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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