When Hell Freezes Over
by Christopher A. Ferrara
The New York Times of February 12, 2001 reports that in the Primorsky region of Russia people are literally freezing to death in the dark for lack of coal to heat their homes. And this is in a nation which is laden with coal deposits.
Citizens across Primorsky are using hot plates, tea kettles and space heaters in a desperate attempt to keep warm. At least 28 people have died from exposure or fires caused by faulty heating devices. But even the electric power plates which supply current for the hot plates are without coal, so that the people end up chopping down trees for firewood. Meanwhile, in the same region the local political bigwigs (most of them “former” communists) are having magnificent homes built for themselves, complete with private heating plants.
In Russia, hell is literally freezing over. The frozen condition of Primorsky is a perfect metaphor for the condition of the Catholic Church in what Sister Lucia called “that poor nation”. During their first ad limina visit with the Pope, the four Catholic bishops of Russia — called “apostolic administrators, so as not to offend the Russian Orthodox” — told the Pope that Russia now has 220 parishes, and 219 priests, according to Zenit news agency in a report dated Feb. 12, 2001. This is a classic case of middle management putting the best face on things for the boss. The “apostolic administrator” for Moscow, Bishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, revealed to Zenit that some 40% of the 220 “parishes” have no place to worship! As for the 219 priests — in a nation of 145 million people — only 20 are Russian-born. The rest are foreigners required to leave the country every three months for another visa.
Even the parishes that have some place to worship can have Mass only once or twice a month due to the lack of priests and distances of 200 to 300 miles between “parishes”. Kondrusiewicz admits that many Catholics come to a Catholic parish for major feasts, but otherwise attend the Orthodox churches. At the same time, the “apostolic administrations” in Russia lack any official recognition under Russia’s 1997 law on freedom of religion. That is, there is nothing resembling a Catholic diocese in Russia today. The Orthodox refuse to allow it.
During the same ad limina visit, Kondrusiewicz assured the Pope that there was no truth to the allegations of the Orthodox that Catholics were engaged in “proselytism and penetration of their ‘canonical territory’.” [Zenit, Feb. 9, 2001] In other words, it is false — and a dastardly accusation — that the Catholic Church is attempting to bring about the conversion of Russia!
As the Russian people shiver and freeze in the dark of night, while their “former” communist overlords nestle in huge, well-heated brick houses, one has to wonder how long the anti-Fatima establishment in our land of plenty will go on pretending that Russia has been consecrated — or entrusted, or whatever term they are using these days — to Mary’s Immaculate Heart.
I wish that all those who say the Consecration has been done could be made to spend just one night freezing in the cold in Primorsky (or a thousand other places in Russia), with no Catholic parish or priest within 300 miles. I rather think they would thereafter find it difficult to go on telling the world that what we see in Russia today is the triumph of the Immaculate Heart. Delusions are always easier to maintain in comfortable surroundings.