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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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On the Moral Content of “Human Rights” and of “Theosis”. A Reassessment (Alfons Brüning)


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On the Moral Content of “Human Rights” and of “Theosis”

A Reassessment


1.  Introduction: A dialogue at a (temporary) dead end

A couple of years have passed since in August 2008 the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) had published its official document about its “Basic Teaching on Human Dignity, Freedom and Rights”.1 According to statements which by then accompanied the release of this document, it was meant as a first, and admittedly incomplete draft containing basic assessments, from the perspective of Russian Orthodox theology, about the themes included in its title. Also because of this preliminary character, it was meant to serve the purpose of facilitating further discussions with Human Rights organizations inside Russia and abroad, and with other religious denominations.2 The chances for such a dialogue seemed to be even better because also defenders and supporters of the Human Rights concept could readily admit the incompleteness of “their” concept in various respects. So there were two standpoints admittedly being, despite standards already achieved, still under development – a situation which seemed to open a path for dialogue and mutual enrichment. Now, almost seven years later, there might be the time for a first evaluation of whether and to what extent these expectations have been fulfilled. ← 325 | 326 →

The impression delivered by such interim evaluation can only be called disappointing. Since some time the dialogue has reached a dead end. On a couple of...

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