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“Conversion of Russia” Update:

Expelled Bishop Hopes to Return to Russia

by Christopher A. Ferrara

On June 19, 2002 CWNews.com reported that Bishop Jerzy Mazur of Irkutsk, who was barred from his Siberian diocese by the Russian government two months ago, believes he will be allowed to return.

Bishop Mazur bases his confidence on a visit “to meet with Pope John Paul II and officials of the Vatican Secretariat of State.” After the visit, according to CWN, Mazur told the Roman news agency I Media that “he is confident he will eventually be allowed to return to his diocese in eastern Siberia. And he said that he has remained in contact with the faithful of that diocese, primarily by telephone and the internet.”

Yet the same article notes that “Despite vigorous and repeated protests by Vatican officials, the Russian government has never explained the decision.” That is, the Practicing Christian (a/k/a Vladimir Putin) has nothing to say on the matter — two months after the expulsion and repeated Vatican inquiries about the reason for it.

On what, then, does Bishop Mazur base his confidence that he will be allowed to return to Siberia, which is where the overwhelming majority of Russian Catholics still reside? Surely he does not base it on the prospect of Russia’s conversion to Catholicism. Yes, Our Lady of Fatima promised that this will eventually occur — “In the end”, once the Consecration is accomplished — but in the meantime Vatican representatives, along with Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz in Moscow, have other ideas. In fact, in the 1993 Balamand Declaration, the Vatican’s negotiator, Cardinal Cassidy, expressly declared that “Pastoral activity in the Catholic Church, Latin as well as Eastern, no longer aims at having the faithful of one Church pass over to the other; that is to say, it no longer aims at proselytizing among the Orthodox. It aims at answering the spiritual needs of its own faithful and it has no desire for expansion at the expense of the Orthodox Church.”

Apparently, then, Bishop Mazur thinks he will be welcome again in a non-Catholic, unconverted Russia, not when it converts, but whenever the Practicing Christian (or his “ex-communist” successor) has a change of heart.

Meanwhile, CWN notes that “the bishop said that his vicar general has kept him informed about developments in the Irkutsk [Siberian] diocese, and supervised the 46 priests and 48 religious working there. [That’s 46 priests for the whole of Siberia! And nearly all of them are non-Russians.] Bishop Mazur said that he ‘feels very close to them, despite the geographical distance’.”

The Vatican disavows any intention to convert Russia, while the bishop of Russia’s largest Catholic diocese is forced to conduct his affairs from outside the country by fax and internet. Behold the fruit of the 1984 consecration of the world, which Vatican officials decided to substitute for what Our Lady of Fatima requested.

And welcome to day 6,672 of the “conversion” of Russia.