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“Conversion of Russia” Update:

More on Kondrusiewicz’s Protest: The Putin Connection

by Christopher A. Ferrara

In my last column I discussed an AP report of April 16, 2002 on how Russian authorities are tightening the screws on the Catholic Church, causing Archbishop Kondrusiewicz to issue a letter protesting the grave threat to religious liberty for Catholics in Russia. The AP report contains much more of concern.

AP further reports that Kondrusiewicz declares in the same letter that the various measures being taken or contemplated against the Church in Russia lead “to the perception that an organized campaign is being conducted against the Catholic Church.” Kondrusiewicz links recent stepped-up persecution of the Church by Russian authorities to “an appeal to President Vladimir Putin from an Orthodox Church archbishop opposed to construction of a Catholic Church in the northern city of Pskov.” In his appeal to Putin, the Orthodox archbishop whines: “do not offend our people with a Catholic presence.”

AP observes that “Kondrusiewicz’s letter came amid an upsurge in tensions between the Orthodox and Catholics. Earlier this year, the Vatican upgraded its presence in Russia to full-fledged dioceses, infuriating the dominant Russian Orthodox Church, which views the Catholic presence in Russia as an attempt to convert Orthodox believers.” And this despite repeated assurances from Kondrusiewicz and the Vatican apparatus that the Catholic Church has no intention of seeking converts among the Orthodox — that is, no intention of converting Russia.

According to AP, “Orthodox leaders have also objected vociferously to Pope John Paul II’s visits to neighboring former Soviet republics, and rejected his overtures for a visit to Russia to advance his campaign for reconciliation between the two estranged branches of Christianity. Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II condemned a video linkup last month between Moscow’s Catholic Cathedral and a Vatican prayer service led by the pope as ‘an invasion’ of Russia.”

And where is Vladimir (“the practicing Christian”) in all of this? As AP notes, “Putin even said earlier this year that he was eager to invite John Paul to Moscow. However, he added that the visit would hinge on a Vatican-Orthodox settlement, virtually giving the Orthodox hierarchy a veto over an invitation.”

How very clever. Putin says he would be happy to have the Pope visit Moscow, if only the Orthodox hierarchy would go along with the idea. At the same time, he stands idly by while Russian authorities revoke the visas of Catholic priests and place their names on a black list of foreigners barred forever from Russia, halt the construction of a Catholic parish, and introduce legislation for further measures against the Church and further “protection” for Russian Orthodoxy. And, of course, Putin has nothing to do with these developments, and would just love to have the Pope visit.

As anyone with any sense can see, what we are witnessing in Russia today is yet another closing of the window, after yet another specious “opening” to the West and to “democracy”. But the endlessly gullible dupes of Fatima revisionism, following the pied pipers of the “new” Fatima — Cardinal Sodano, Cardinal Ratzinger, Cardinal Castrillon and Msgr. Bertone — continue to insist that Fatima is finished and that we must all stop pestering the Pope for the consecration of Russia.

Perhaps when Catholic priests are arrested for espionage and thrown into Putin’s version of the gulag, the dupes will begin to reconsider their laughable claim that we are witnessing the “conversion” of Russia. But don’t count on it. Where these folks are concerned, we are dealing with a very profound case of self-inflicted blindness — or simply a stubborn refusal to admit that they are wrong, catastrophically wrong.