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“Conversion of Russia” Update:

Putin’s Khrushchevian Gambit

by Christopher A. Ferrara

Now that the persecution of the Catholic Church by the regime of Vladimir (“the practicing Christian”) Putin is well underway, the Practicing Christian is playing a gambit worthy of the Khrushchev era. As reported by Zenit on February 18, “Russia’s representative to the Vatican [Litvin] said that: ‘The Pope’s visit to Moscow is not only possible but also necessary."

Oh, so now that the Practicing Christian is expelling Catholic priests and bishops from Russia and harassing local parishes, the Pope’s visit to Moscow is suddenly necessary? Well, of course there is a communist-style catch to this seeming overture. As Litvin declared: "However, some obstacles must be removed in the dialogue between the Churches [Catholic and Russian Orthodox]. The Pope cannot go only as head of state. He is, at the same time, head of a Church — that is why it is unthinkable that he not meet with the patriarch of Moscow during his visit. It is necessary to prepare a normal terrain so that the visit will be productive.”

And what does Litvin mean by “a normal terrain”? As Zenit reports: “Referring to the obstacles that exist in the dialogue between Rome and the Orthodox patriarchate, Litvin mentioned the alleged ‘proselytism’ of Catholics in Russia, and the question of Eastern-rite Catholics in Ukraine.” So, it’s the same old song: the Catholic Church must cease “proselytizing” and Ukrainian Catholics must cease their effort to recover the parishes stolen at gunpoint from their forebears by Josef Stalin, who forced the Catholic faithful and hierarchy to violate the Treaty of Brest (1596) by which the Ukrainian Orthodox were reconciled with Rome. And what about the priests and bishops expelled by the Practicing Christian? According to Litvin their expulsion “has nothing to do with their religious activity,” and “the accusations against Russia of fomenting an anti-Catholic campaign are totally unfounded.” Sure. And Moscow is south of Miami.

Even more ridiculous, Litvin claimed that “some representatives of the Catholic Church had gone beyond their spiritual sphere and begun to dedicate themselves to… purely commercial activities.” Huh? Litvin provided absolutely no proof for this strange accusation. But lest anyone think that the Practicing Christian has any intention of relenting in his persecution of the Catholic Church, Litvin added that the Vatican “must not have any illusions about the return of the pastors who, having violated Russian legislation, have had their visas canceled.”

So what, then, would be the point of the Pope visiting Moscow? This is easy enough to discern: the point is to keep the Pope and the Vatican chasing after a carrot on a stick, while the Practicing Christian and his Kremlin henchmen tighten their iron grip on the Catholic Church in Russia. And this, dear reader, is where we find ourselves, some 19 years after the “consecration” of Russia way back in 1984.