The following message of congratulation has been sent to Bishop Justin Welby by Metropolitan Hilarion, the Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate [link here]
The letter, which pulls no punches, spells out just how difficult ecumenical relationships have now become:
"Dear Brother and Lord Bishop,I would like to extend to you wholehearted congratulations on your election as Head of one of the oldest episcopal chairs founded by St. Augustine of Canterbury in the 7th century.You have been entrusted with the spiritual guidance of the entire Anglican Communion, a unique union of like-minded people, which, however diverse the forms of its existence in the world may be, needs one ‘steward of God’ (Tit. 1:7) the guardian of the faith and witness to the Truth (cf. Jn. 18:37).The Russian Orthodox Church and the Churches of the Anglican Communion are bonded by age-old friendly relations initiated in the 15th century. For centuries, our Churches would preserve good and truly brotherly relations encouraged both by frequent mutual visits and established theological dialogue and certainly by a spirit of respect and love which used to accompany the meetings of our hierarchs, clergy and ordinary believers.Regrettably, the late 20th century and the beginning of the third millennium have brought tangible difficulties in relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Churches of the Anglican Communion. The introduction female priesthood and now episcopate, the blessing of same-sex ‘unions’ and ‘marriages’, the ordination of homosexuals as pastors and bishops – all these innovations are seen by the Orthodox as deviations from the tradition of the Early Church, which increasingly estrange Anglicanism from the Orthodox Church and contribute to a further division of Christendom as a whole.We hope that the voice of the Orthodox Church will be heard by the Church of England and Churches of the Anglican Communion, and good fraternal relationships between us will revive.I wish you God’s help in your important work.‘May the God of love and peace be with you’ (2 Cor. 13:11).
One of the problems which orthodox, 'Catholic' Christians within the Anglican Communion face is the a priori belief of Anglicanism's liberals and revisionists, who now run our western provinces, that somehow "reason," the currently over-promoted leg of the traditional* 'three-legged stool' of Anglican polity, is synonymous with the prevailing view of contemporary secular culture and, in practice, has an infallibilty accorded to it by our modern would-be reformers which they deny to papacy, Church, Holy Scripture or sacred tradition or any possible combination of the foregoing.Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk"
It would certainly explain why, in the face of such catastrophic decline, they insist the correct response to our present problems is to slam their feet hard down on the accelerator of radical change, rather than engage in a good, hard, prayerful, reflection about where exactly this course of action may be leading us as an ecclesial body.
From the recent past [see here and here], it is far too late to expect messages like that of Metropolitan Hilarion, from the representatives of formerly serious and engaged ecumenical partners, to have any effect whatsoever upon our leaders, but we must pray nevertheless - even in the face of bitter experience - that such pleas will not be completely disregarded.
* even if it is a formulation which is somewhat unclear in its practical application