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“Conversion of Russia” Update:

Putin the Ecumenist

by Christopher A. Ferrara

Readers of this column will recall Fidel Castro’s fondness for “ecumenism” (one of those vague post-Vatican II terms whose meaning no one quite understands). Castro is so fond of ecumenism that he insisted an ecumenical center be built in Cuba ahead of schedule. As I wrote in an earlier column: “Why is the old commie so eager to finish the ‘ecumenical center’? Well, because the ‘ecumenical center’ will not be Catholic, but multi-religious in its activities.” (“Castro the Ecumenist”, Dec. 2001)

Well, it turns out that Cuba’s old commie dictator has something in common with Russia’s new young dictator. Yes, Vladimir Putin is an ecumenist too! As reported by Zenit on November 4, 2003, “Putin said he aims to promote Christian unity when he visits John Paul II on Wednesday.”

The term “Christian unity” is just another way of saying “ecumenism”. You see, “Christian unity” is the goal of “ecumenism”, although it seems no one can quite explain how there can be “Christian unity” without all Christians belonging to one and the same Catholic Church. Putin, like all “ecumenists”, means something other than conversion to Catholicism when he speaks of “Christian unity”.

Indeed, the new ecumenical version of the Message of Fatima denies that the conversion of Russia has anything to do with Russians becoming Catholics. Oh no, the Fatima revisionists tell us, Our Lady of Fatima was calling only for “Christian unity” — just like Vladimir Putin.

Putin the Ecumenist rather vaingloriously declares: “I believe that my objective is to foster the unification of Christianity, taking the opportune steps and not so much to enable the Pope to come to Russia.” So, the Pope won’t be coming to Russia — not that it would make any real difference if he did — but Putin will be taking “steps” to foster “Christian unity”. And what “steps” would those be? Don’t expect any concrete answers, for there is nothing concrete about “ecumenism”.

Putin muses that “Christianity is at the base of European culture and European identity.” You don’t say? Perhaps Putin can explain someday why this obvious historical fact was never recognized by Moscow when he was a high-ranking KGB official whose job was to maintain the Soviet system’s official atheism — which, of course, is still in place in pro-abortion Russia, despite the illusory “fall of communism”.

Putin went on to say: “The divisions that exist between Catholics and the Orthodox Church also exist, for example, between Catholics and Anglicans. All these differences must be reconciled.” Gee, that’s helpful. But this sort of empty palaver is typical of “ecumenism”.

Zenit’s report notes that during Putin’s visit to the Vatican in June 2002, “contrary to what Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin did when they went to the Vatican, Putin did not invite the Pope to visit his country.” So, while Putin claims to have a yen for “Christian unity”, he is actually less hospitable toward the Pope than his overtly communist predecessors. Meanwhile, the Putin regime is presiding over the slow legal strangulation of the Catholic Church in Russia, prompting even the anti-Fatima Vatican apparatus to protest the persecution of Russian Catholics.

Here we see yet again that “ecumenism”, like the “peaceful coexistence” of the Khrushchev years, is nothing but a cover for the advance of the Church’s enemies. Castro loves ecumenism, and so does Putin. What more do we need to know about whether “ecumenism” has been a wise and fruitful policy for the Holy Catholic Church?