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"Ecumenical Follies" Update

Alexei Bent Out of Shape

by Christopher A. Ferrara

On February 13, 2002 The National Post Online reported that "Russia's Orthodox Church angrily denounced the Vatican yesterday, saying its move to create Roman Catholic dioceses in Russia is aimed at building a structure to win converts from among Orthodox believers."

As noted in my previous column, the Vatican has not really created dioceses of regions in Russia, but rather dioceses at certain places - the Diocese of the Mother of God at Moscow, for instance. This makes about as much sense as the President at the United States or the District at Columbia.

Nevertheless, this timid move toward regularization of the Catholic Church in Russia has been greeted with a storm of Orthodox protests. The National Post reports that "Patriarch Alexei II and the Orthodox synod said ‘missionary aims’ lie behind the Vatican's move. This is supported by a multitude of facts [showing] missionary activity by the Catholic priesthood among the Russian population."

Missionary activity? By Catholic priests? Well we can’t have that! And the Vatican has been quick to point out, again and again, that the Catholic Church has no intention of proselytizing in Russia and is in fact unable to do so, given its severely limited resources.

According to the statement released by Alexei, "The Moscow patriarchate calls this activity [establishing dioceses] proselytizing and looks on it as one of the basic obstacles to improving relations between our two Churches."

In other words, the only way for the Catholic Church to "improve relations" with the Orthodox is not to be the Catholic Church in Russia.

Alexei’s statement goes on to to issue this dire warning: "The Vatican would have to bear ‘responsibility before God and history for the sharp deterioration in our relations and the frustration of hopes for a normalization which had just appeared.’"

Hopes for normalization? True normalization in Russia would mean the return to the Catholic Church of the stolen Catholic parishes, cathedrals and other properties Stalin confiscated at gun point, and which Alexei and his fellow schismatics illegitimately occupy today.

The ever-helpful Russian Foreign Ministry has told the Vatican that "its move is likely to worsen relations with the Orthodox Church and had urged it to delay a decision. It is regrettable that such an important decision was taken without taking due account of the opinion of the Russian side."

And now - oh, calamity of calamities - it seems that "the sharp tone of yesterday's statement appeared to be a real setback for prospects of any visit to Russia by the Pope."

So what? What exactly would be accomplished by the Pope visiting Moscow for a few hours? The Russian Orthodox have made it quite clear that they are opposed to any such visit unless "there is an end to what the Orthodox Church sees as Catholic attempts to make converts in Russia and other Orthodox former Soviet states."

So in order to make the Orthodox happy, all the Catholic Church would have to do is cease "proselytizing," give up claims to the property stolen by Stalin, and not form any dioceses in Russia. Then there could be "normalized" relations. Sounds rather like Khrushchev’s version of "peaceful coexistence." And this is the fruit of forty years of "ecumenical dialogue" with these characters.

The ecumenical follies go on, and Russia remains unconverted, her once Catholic parishes and cathedrals in the hands of Josef Stalin’s beneficiaries, whose minimum demand is that the Catholic Church consent to Orthodox domination.

Great work, Cardinal Sodano. What will you do for an encore?

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