Report: Bishop burns "heretical'' books by leading theologians
MOSCOW (AP) - A Russian Orthodox bishop ordered a school to publicly burn "heretical'' writings by leading Orthodox theologians - an act highlighting the church's deep internal divisions, the Moscow Times said Wednesday.
The books by the priests - Alexander Schmemann, John Meyendorf and Alexander Menn - were confiscated from students in a religious school and burned before their eyes last month on the orders of Bishop Nikon of Yekaterinburg, the Times and other reports said.
Nikon, the top church official in the Ural Mountains region 1,500 kilometers (900 miles) from Moscow, also has reportedly ordered a dissident priest defrocked for refusing "to help dethrone dangerous and heretical delusions,'' the newspaper said.
Nikon and the church leadership have denied burning the books, but several church officials confirmed the incident privately, the Times said. One local church member sent a complaint to the Russian Orthodox Church's Patriarchate in Moscow.
The conflict is the latest sign of an ongoing battle between the church's conservative and moderate wings. Conservatives who hold key posts in the hierarchy oppose ecumenism and have resisted contacts with most Western churches, including some branches of Orthodoxy.
While some consider Menn's writings controversial, Schmemann and Meyendorf are generally praised as the church's most important 20th century theologians. The two served as consecutive deans of St. Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary in New York.
Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II has frequently expressed his admiration for Schmemann and Meyendorf, whose books are studied in many ecclesiastical schools across Russia.
"Now to hear that a bishop of the church, now living in freedom, is capable of an act so repugnant and godless fills me with dismay and anger,'' Serge Schmemann, the late theologian's son and a Pulitzer Prize winning U.S. journalist, told the paper.
Schmemann's widow, Juliana, has sent a letter to Alexy asking him to clarify the situation, the Times said.
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Posted by METAPHRASIS Religious News Service