Studies in Christian Ethics 35 (2):266-280 (2022)

In a span of twenty years, two of the autocephalous churches of the Orthodox Christian world released documents addressing the social realities of contemporary life: the Russian Orthodox Church's Basis of the Social Concept and the Ecumenical Patriarch's For the Life of the World: Toward a Social Ethos of the Orthodox Church. This article offers a side-by-side comparison and analysis of the documents’ treatments of matters of birth and death, including childbirth, abortion, miscarriage, end-of-life care, euthanasia, suicide, and a vision of a good death. Detailed comparison demonstrates remarkable accord between the two churches on many of these matters. Differences of omission and emphasis appear to be indicative of contrasting demographic and historical situations, with the exception of one, notable divergence between the churches, all of which are discussed. The striking degree and depth of consonance between the documents offers potential for cooperation and unity as the two churches negotiate their conflicts while also seeking to guide their flocks and offer Orthodox Christian witness in an increasingly desacralized world.
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DOI 10.1177/09539468211045332
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