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“Conversion of Russia” Update:

Russia Lays Down Conditions for Papal Visit

by Christopher A. Ferrara

The day after the Day of Prayer for World Peace in Assisi, to which the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church sent a representative, it was business as usual in Moscow. Zenit reports (January 25, 2002) that it would be happy to agree to a papal visit to Moscow, providing one modest condition is met: Orthodox Metropolitan Kirill says that “dialogue with the Vatican and a papal visit are possible if the Catholic clergy ceases to proselytize in Russia.”

Is that all! But why should the Catholic Church object to this condition? After all, according to one Smolensk, who heads the patriarchate’s Foreign Relations department, “a Russian Catholic Church has ‘no future’.” And the Moscow Patriarchate will see to that!

Even Zenit notes that “the metropolitan made his statements the day after the meeting of religious leaders in Assisi convoked by John Paul II, at which Patriarch Alexy II was represented by his vicar.” Another glitzy peace and love celebration come to naught — as if anyone could have expected otherwise.

As Zenit observes: “the Russian Orthodox Church resents the rebirth of Catholic communities since the [so-called] fall of Communism. The Stalin regime forced Eastern-rite Catholics to enter the Orthodox Church. Many bishops, priests and laymen were martyred or imprisoned for opposing this imposition.” But the Moscow Patriarchate is not about to part with its ill-gotten gains and its forcibly acquired adherents. Repeating Smolensk’s line, Kirill said to Agence France-Presse: “We are convinced that a Russian Catholic Church is something with no future or prospects. It is necessary that we pass from proselytism to bilateral and multilateral cooperation.” Further, said Kirill, “the work of Catholic missionaries on Russian soil ‘is not correct’. There is no need to profess the Catholic faith here, but to work with the Orthodox Church to reinforce Christian values.”

Remember the great “breakthrough” in Catholic-Orthodox relations that was supposed to have occurred with the papal trip to the Ukraine last June? Forget it. According to Zenit, “Metropolitan Kirill deplored the fact that John Paul II visited Ukraine last June, despite Alexy II’s opposition. Although the papal visit ‘was not a catastrophe’, it has not ‘contributed anything to Catholic-Orthodox relations’.”

So, despite all the hubbub about a papal visit to Russia in the near future, it is clear already that it would accomplish exactly nothing. As Kirill put it: “The Bishop of Rome should only travel to Russia or meet with Alexy II when pending problems are resolved.” By which he means that the Pope should not come to Russia until the Catholic Church agrees to cease all efforts to convert “that poor nation” (as Sister Lucy called it) and cease demanding the return to the Mystical Body that which Stalin ripped away from it. In other words, the Pope may come to Russia when he consents to accept the results of Stalin’s crime against God — the very crime Our Lady of Fatima came to rectify with Her call for Russia’s consecration and conversion.

This hardhearted demand by the heirs of the Stalinist legacy of terror is what the Fatima revisionists would have us believe is a “miracle” — brought about by a “consecration of Russia” which never mentioned Russia. Their legacy of shame grows with each new insult to the Bride of Christ by the Russian Orthodox Church.