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“Conversion of Russia” Update:

Putin Returning to Khrushchev’s Model

by Christopher A. Ferrara

Well, the “conversion of Russia” just keeps rolling on. According to a report by Zenit.org on March 25, 2001, recent changes to Russia’s Presidential Commission for Religion ordered by Vladimir Putin indicate that §Russia is moving toward greater secularization, a move that could spell trouble for the Catholic Church …” In the immortal words of Gomer Pyle, “surprise, surprise, surprise.”

Zenit reports that Putin has put Orthodox Metropolitan Bishop Mefodi of Voronezh and Lipetsk on the commission. There is a small problem with Mefodi: it seems he is a KGB agent and (not to put too fine a point on it) an atheist. This is according to “a 1992 report in the Russian emigrant newspaper Russkaya Mysl [which] Mefodi neither confirmed nor denied.” The result, in the assessment of the reputable Keston religious news service, is that Putin “has entrusted a secular body to draw up a religious policy, whose principal features will be a strong emphasis on the secular nature of the Russian state …”

Keston further notes that “Putin has made few clear pronouncements on religious policy” and that “Religion is evidently not among his highest priorities.” This is because Putin comes from a state security background, and for him religion “usually becomes a priority only when it seems to impinge upon security issues.” Ah, but according to the Fatima revisionists, Putin is a “Christian” and his ascendancy is a “miracle”.

Zenit’s report goes on to note that according to Keston’s assessment, “President Putin’s religious policy seems to be in line with the last phase of Boris Yeltsin’s. It encourages the formation of a coalition among the ‘traditional confessions’, which in turn are expected to support the consolidation of the state. Those that fail to do so, risk serious difficulties with the authorities.” Sound familiar? This is also the post-Stalinist Khrushchev model, under which the Russian Orthodox Church was allowed to exist so long as it served the KGB and offered no opposition whatsoever to the Soviet regime.

What does this mean for the barely-alive Catholic Church in Russia? Not good. The Keston agency believes it likely that “the Roman Catholic Church will in practice be increasingly dealt with as a nontraditional confession, even if it is formally considered a traditional one. In recent years, two Catholic bishops were denied Russian citizenship and were told by the authorities that the only way they would be accepted would be if they married a Russian.”

This means, in effect, that the Catholic Church will not be allowed to have any bishops who can reside permanently in Russia, and therefore “the bishops cannot take legal responsibility for their apostolic administrations, and the Catholic Church is unable to register the latter.” This development, notes Keston, is combined with the Church’s difficulty in recovering any of the Church properties confiscated during the Stalin era and the increasing hostility of state authorities toward Catholic clergy, resulting in “refusal and curtailment of visas for visiting clergy” — which is to say nearly all the Catholic clergy in Russia. In short, the Catholic Church is dead in the water in Russia, and the situation is only going to get worse.

Father Fox, please admit you are wrong. EWTN, please do the same. Stop peddling a lie to the faithful and open your eyes to the reality in Russia today. There is no conversion going on there. Quite the contrary, the Catholic Church was more robust under Khrushchev, the overt communist, than it is under Putin the “Christian”. Instead of the conversion of Russia we are witnessing the Fatima Curse: Heaven’s answer to the failure to consecrate Russia in the manner Our Lady of Fatima requested. And those who call the curse a miracle are going to have to answer for the continued suffering of the Mystical Body in Russia.