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Orthodox Christianity and Human Rights in Europe

A Dialogue Between Theological Paradigms and Socio-Legal Pragmatics



This collective book aims at examining in what terms, and to what extent, the "reception" of the Human Rights doctrine takes place in Eastern Orthodox countries, as well as in the Orthodox diaspora. A series of questions are raised regarding the resources and theological structures that are mobilized in the overall Human Rights’ debate and controversy, the theological "interpretation" of Human Rights within the Eastern Orthodox spiritual tradition, and the similarities and/or divergences of this "interpretation", compared to the other Christian confessions. Special attention is given to the various Orthodox actors on the international arena, aside the national Orthodox churches, which participate in the Ecumenical dialogue, as well as the dialogue with the European and international institutions.

Religious freedom, as a fundamental Human right, guaranteed by the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), constitutes a key-issue that contributes to broadening the reflections on the overall Human Rights-related problematic between East and West, by shading light on the more complex issue pertaining to the conceptualization and implementation of Human Rights in countries belonging to the Eastern Orthodox tradition.

The present volume studies the diversity that characterizes the Orthodox theological traditions and interpretations regarding Human Rights, not only in terms of an "external", or a "strategical" approach of socio-political and ecclesial nature, but also through a reflexive analysis of theological discourses.

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Theological Foundation of Human Rights. Incompatibility between Orthodox and Protestant Tradition? (Stefan Tobler)


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Theological Foundation of Human Rights

Incompatibility between Orthodox and Protestant Tradition?


Since Patriarch Kirill assumed his office, the Russian Orthodox Church finds herself within a process of renewal. She should be able to cope with the requirements of a rapidly changing society and bring in her weight into the political discussion. The Social Doctrine of the Russian Church, published in 2000, already bears the strong seal of Kirill1. A collection of lectures of the Patriarch, recently issued in the German translation2, is an impressive and instructive testimony of his activity. He is very concerned with maintaining and strengthening the Christian faith in a world under fast transformation. Unfortunately – he says – the prevalent politics in Europe with its secularisation would often be an adversary of faith. His concern is about the universal quarrel between two world perspectives, two systems: the secular-humanist and liberal on one hand, the religious-tradition-bound on the other; it is about a ← 31 | 32 → kind of clash of civilizations3. This conviction can be found in many lectures and essays of today’s Russian patriarch. He advocates the “return to the Christian meaning of the European values”4 and looks for allies. It is not accidentally that the current representative for external contacts, Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, has been speaking – at least since 20055 – of the necessity of a Catholic-Orthodox alliance to protect moral values in Europe and as a fight “against secularism, liberalism and relativism”.


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