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“Conversion of Russia” Update:

Neo-Catholic Press Rejects Conversion of Russia

by Christopher A. Ferrara

Dr. Thomas Woods and I have just published a book entitled The Great Façade: Vatican II and the Regime of Novelty in the Roman Catholic Church. In the book we explore the phenomenon of neo-Catholicism. A neo-Catholic is one who not only accepts but defends against all reasoned criticism every one of the novelties, about-faces and capitulations sanctioned by the Vatican over the past forty years of plainly disastrous post-conciliar “renewal”. Everything from altar girls to the “new” ecumenical version of the Message of Fatima being promoted by Cardinal Sodano — which I call Fatima Lite — is defended by the neo-Catholic establishment, whose leaders routinely challenge or impugn the Catholicity of anyone who questions these innovations.

Where Fatima is concerned, a recent Moscow Times article by Geraldine Fagan and Lawrence Uzzell of Keston News Service, featured with obvious approval by Catholic World News (CWN), is worthy of special note. The article begins by noting the ominous fact that “President Vladimir Putin’s Russia treats certain activities as crimes even though there is no formal law forbidding them: for example, news stories about atrocities in Chechnya. Now the Putin government is taking steps to suppress another activity on which the written laws of the Russian Federation are silent: the religious offense of ‘proselytism’.” That is, Putin is taking steps to suppress the Roman Catholic Church in Russia.

The authors define “proselytism” as “actively seeking converts from other Christian bodies.” In other words, the evangelization of heretics and schismatics, which is part of the divine commission of the Church to “make disciples of all nations … teaching them to observe all things I have commanded thee.”

The authors observe that “the last few months have seen an increasingly intense campaign by the Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow against the alleged proselytism of Roman Catholic clergy in Russia. This same period has seen a new crackdown by Russia’s secular authorities against the Catholics, most dramatically in the expulsion of Bishop Jerzy Mazur…. In effect, a certain ‘division of labor’ has emerged, with secular officials taking concrete measures against Roman Catholics and the Moscow Patriarchate providing the propaganda campaign to justify those measures.”

As a result, “Bishop Mazur is still languishing in Warsaw, three months after officials at Sheremetyevo Airport barred him from returning to Russia. The Kremlin seems to have calculated that the new alliance against terrorism gives it more leeway to take domestic measures against religious minorities of all kinds, not just Muslims.”

Well, do the authors of the article take the position that the Catholic Church has the right, indeed the duty, to seek converts among the Orthodox in keeping with the divine commission and Our Lady of Fatima’s prophecy that Russia “will be converted”? Quite the contrary, the authors observe that “Some Catholics, such as Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz in Moscow, believe that the lead in evangelizing the Russians properly belongs to the Orthodox Church, and that Catholics should not try to win converts from among those Russians who are already practicing Orthodox Christians. Others are just as eager as Bible-belt Protestants to pursue ‘the conversion of Russia’.”

Notice that the activity of seeking converts from among the Russian Orthodox is implicitly disparaged as something worthy of “Bible-belt Christians”, and that the very phrase “conversion of Russia” is placed between contemptuous quotation marks, as if no respectable Catholic could be in favor of such an outlandish undertaking. Indeed, the authors even declare that “the Moscow Patriarchate has every moral right to ask that the Vatican enforce among its own faithful the Pope’s stated view that the Orthodox Church is one of the ‘two lungs’ of historic Christianity.” Two lungs? Does this mean that the Mystical Body of Christ has been divided in two since the Orthodox schism of 1054? How can this notion, ascribed to the Pope no less, be reconciled with the dogma of the indivisibility of the one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church, and the teaching of Pius XII in Humani Generis that “the Mystical Body of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church are one and the same thing?”

Thus, according to the authors, the Catholic Church ought not to engage in anything as unseemly as seeking the conversion of Russia, and should even enforce a “no conversions” policy on Catholic clerics in Russia in order to remove the Kremlin’s justification for its recent punitive measures against the Church.

In short, the neo-Catholic press, following Cardinal Sodano’s Party line, has turned its back on the fundamental request of the Mother of God at Fatima. The conversion of Russia is now dismissed as something only a Bible-thumping Protestant would seek. Yet another aspect of Roman Catholicism as it existed before Vatican II is tossed into the post-conciliar memory hole, along with every other tradition whose sudden loss only forty years ago the neo-Catholic establishment does not see as any great problem.

For now, at least, the post-conciliar regime of novelty impedes even the requests of the Mother of God. But not forever. Sooner or later the plague of post-conciliar correctness — the ecclesial equivalent of political correctness — will end, and the designs of men will give way to the ineluctable design of Heaven. And then the conversion of Russia — and with it the return of the Orthodox to Rome — will be unstoppable. For now, however, we must all suffer the effects of the neo-Catholic malaise.