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“Conversion of Russia” Update:

Proselytism? NO WAY!

by Christopher A. Ferrara

In recent days, following the expulsion of a Catholic bishop and two key priests in the tiny Catholic apparatus in Russia, the Russian Orthodox have been beating the drums with great frenzy over Catholic “proselytism”.

According to a report by Zenit on July 4, 2002, “the Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow, again accusing Catholics of proselytism in Russian territory, says that even those who do not profess to be believers, have a generic interest in Orthodoxy.” According to Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, “Western missionaries take advantage of the soil we have made fertile.”

Fertile? The man has to be kidding. Russia is the abortion and child porn capital of the world, and 95% of the nominal Orthodox never see the inside of a Church even once during the year.

Kirill’s comments were made in a letter addressed to Cardinal Walter Kasper and Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz. According to Zenit, “the letter attempts to explain the accusation of proselytism leveled by the Orthodox against the Catholics, especially after John Paul II erected four dioceses in the Russian Federation.”

Kirill’s letter provides “proofs” of Catholic “proselytism”. These include the fact that the now-expelled Bishop Mazur belongs to the Society of the Divine Word, “a congregation that is ‘guilty’ of promoting activities for adolescents and youths in Moscow.” Why, Mazur even “studied missiology at the Gregorian University in Rome.” Based on this “evidence”, Kirill concludes: “Consequently, with ‘such formation, he cannot but promote missionary activity on a large scale’.”

Kirill also complains about “the ‘welfare’ activity of the religious orders” such as the Dominicans, Jesuits, Holy Family missionaries, and Sons of Divine Providence. “In today’s Russia,” Kirill declares, “the number of Catholics is such that it does not warrant the presence of so many communities.” Zenit notes that “the letter even attacks Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s Missionaries of Charity. ‘The word missionaries appears in their name,’ it said. ‘In their house in Moscow, they take children off the streets and direct them to Catholicism’.” So, taking in the homeless children of Moscow is “proselytism”.

And the Vatican’s defense? According to Zenit, “Russian Catholics and the Vatican have always explained that the Church’s missionary activity is not directed at Orthodox faithful but at those who are ignorant of the Gospel.” Archbishop Kondrusiewicz noted that “the accusation of proselytism is supported ‘by a list of meaningless deeds and episodes’.”

In other words — proselytism? No way! Again and again, the Vatican denies any intention to convert Russia — which is to say, any intention to do what God has commanded at Fatima. Accordingly, Kondrusiewicz said: “I make a proposal: Let us, Catholics and Orthodox, sit down together and define in black and white what is or is not proselytism. I know and esteem many personalities of the patriarchate and I know that they are open and tolerant, as demonstrated by ordinary cooperation in many cities.”

So, let’s sit down and talk about proselytism, so that we can agree on what it is and then promise the Catholic Church will not do it. This, dear reader, is what has become of the conversion of Russia, more than 18 years after the wizards of Vatican diplomacy decided to substitute a consecration of the world for what the Mother of God actually requested.