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“Conversion of Russia” Update:

A Most Revealing Interview

by Christopher A. Ferrara

After the Pope’s so-called “virtual visit” to Moscow on a couple of TV screens set up in the Cathedral of the Assumption, Zenit reports that Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz said in a phone call: “For the first time the Pope was among us, even though it was only by television. Now we really await him. We will succeed in organizing this trip.”

I hate to put a damper on the party, but why exactly is a papal trip to Moscow so all-important — assuming it ever happens? The notion that papal trips to this or that place can bring about some dramatic change for the better in the place visited has not been borne out by experience. Remember the great “breakthrough” that was supposed to occur with the papal trip to Cuba? Nothing happened — except that persecution of the Church continued. Remember the great “breakthrough” with the papal trip to Greece? Nothing happened — except that the Pope apologized to the Greek schismatics for the “sins” of long-dead Catholics against them, even as the Greek government of today viciously discriminates against Catholics. Remember how, surely, the papal trip to Romania would be a great breakthrough. Well, they are bulldozing Catholic churches to the ground in Romania as I write this column.

With all due respect, the world does not need another papal trip to another country where he is not really welcome. The world needs sanctifying grace and a conversion to the one true religion — starting in Russia.

Yet Archbishop Kondrusiewicz was all agog over how astounding it was that the Pope could actually be seen on a television screen in Moscow. In the course of the same interview, however, he made some very revealing remarks. First of all, he admitted that “Sparks flew when they learned that the Pope would be connected with us by video, but we expected it. At this time, they don’t miss an occasion to attack the Catholic Church.”

What? Eighteen years after the “miracle” of Russia’s conversion supposedly began, the Russian Orthodox do not miss a chance to attack the Catholic Church?

Commiserating with Kondrusiewicz, the Zenit interviewer asked: “Do they always accuse you of proselytism?” — what a dastardly accusation! — whereupon Kondrusiewicz yet again renounced any conversion of Russia to the Catholic faith: “We have no intention to harm the Orthodox Church. They are our brothers in the faith. Why should we rejoice over an eventual weakening on their part?”

No, we must keep the Orthodox Church strong. Indeed, the Vatican itself was proud to announce (in defense of the creation of dioceses in Russia) that Catholic charities give many millions of dollars to the Russian Orthodox Church.

The problem, however, is that Russian Orthodoxy is an empty shell concealing a nearly total lack of faith in Russia. Kondrusiewicz himself noted that during Easter, the height of the Orthodox liturgical year, “the [Orthodox] churches received close to 102,000 faithful”, even though Moscow has 10 million inhabitants. That is, only about one percent of the citizens of Moscow showed up in an Orthodox church during Easter.

As for the Catholics, Kondrusiewicz admitted that there are only 65,000 of them in all of Moscow — just over one-half of one percent of the population — and only 600,000 Catholics in all of Russia again, just over one-half of one percent. Muslims, by comparison, are about six percent of the population, and rising fast.

Meanwhile, Kondrusiewicz further admits that “it seems we have returned to the situation of 10 years ago. When the Pope created the apostolic administrations and we arrived in Moscow, there was the same climate of frost and mistrust.” So, ten years after the “fall of communism” the Catholic Church is still being viewed with an attitude of “frost and mistrust.”

And so it will be until Russia is consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. What a tragedy that those who govern the Church today refuse to see this.