New edited volume on Human Rights in European Christian Perspective

I would like to draw your attention to the new anthology in German on Christianity and Human Rights in Europe, edited by three renowned reasearchers in the field of Eastern Christianity, Vasilios N. Makrides, Jennifer Wasmuth, and Stefan Kube.

Titelumschlag Makrides menschenrechteThe starting point of the contributions in this volume is the important official statement of the Russian Orthodox Church on Human Rights in 2008. Most chapters are considering aspects related to this issue, but there are also important studies on subjects regarding the position of other European Churches and denominations toward Human Rights, for instance the Romanian Orthodox (the second largest Orthodox Church in the world), the Catholic, and the Lutheran Churches.

Among the contributors are Alfons Brüning, Ingeborg Gabriel, Vasilios N. Makrides, Kristina Stoeckl, Hans G. Ulrich, important theologians, historians or religious scholars in the field of modern European religious history.

I wrote the chapter on the position of the Romanian-Orthodox Church towards human rights (“Positionen zu den Menschenrechten in der Rumänischen Orthodoxie”). This essay is an extension of a previous contribution on this blog and arises from the general observation that there is no common and uniform Orthodox Christian position towards human rights. I argue that, contrary to the Russian Orthodox Church, the Romanian Orthodox Church adopts a less systematic and programmatic strategy on human rights. Its stance is characterised by pragmatism with punctual finality depending on different contexts and themes, starting with bioethics and ending with problems regarding abuses against minorities and migrants. The main doctrinal and argumentative patterns of these two Orthodox Churches are further underpinned, on the one hand by the official document of the Russian Church on human rights of 2008, and on the other hand by various statements of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Church.

For more information on the volume visit the publisher’s Webpage.

New Book: The Russian Orthodox Church and Human Rights

In one of my earlier posts  I have discussed the issue of human rights concerning the Romanian Orthodox Church. Today I would like to draw your attention on the new book of the Austrian political scientist and sociologist Kristina Stoeckl on the position of the Russian Orthodox Church in relation to human rights. “The Russian Orthodox Church and Human Rights” was recently published by Routledge.


I consider this book as a major contribution to the subject. The author is very well informed and approaches almost all the determining issues of the debate. Her discussion of the crucial pattern of modernization in the Eastern Churches (see my contribution), their relation to post secular globalized and plural world includes subtle analysis from the perspective of sociology, political sciences, politics, international law and even theology. The interdisciplinary approach opens a multitude of perspectives, but bears also some difficulties.

As she frankly acknowledges on page 130, Kristina Stoeckl is “a political scientist” and “has opted for a political-sociological analysis of the Russian Orthodox human rights debate”, but “as an outside observer [she has] not failed to notice the theological dynamic at play”. This is partially true, she notices indeed the theological dynamics, but misinterprets it. A religious scholar familiar with the theological and ecclesiological discourses within Eastern Christianity (the main issues when you have to speak about a ‘Church’) would criticize the lack of religious expertise. Therefor I would like to discuss following three aspects from a theological point of view: Continue reading

Human Rights in the Romanian Orthodox Church After 2008

The human rights issue is meanwhile a familiar theme for the Western Christian Churches such as the Roman-Catholic and the Protestant Churches. After the problematic relation during the 18th and 19th century concerning the human rights affirmations of the American ‘Declaration of Independence’ (1776) and the French Revolution (1789 or 1791) the Roman Catholic Church succeeded to relax its attitude towards human rights and to assimilate the pattern in its own social ethics, of course underpinning it with theological and biblical argumentations in its attempt to de-secularize this discourse. The Protestant Churches demonstrate a broad and differential approach to the social, political and ethical function of human rights, despite their apparent congruity exhibited by the statements of the Lutheran or Reformed World Federations (1970) (as shown by Christopher Voigt-Goy in his previous post). Continue reading