Monday, June 18, 2007

No Plans to Convert Russia to Catholicism

Interfax has a short article on comments made by the President of the Pontifical Council for Culture clarifying (yet again) that the Vatican has no plans or desires to "convert" Russia to Catholicism.

2007-06-18 14:09:00

Vatican has no plans to convert Russia to Catholicism - cardinal Poupard

Moscow, June 18, Interfax - The Vatican does not want to convert Russia to Catholicism, and relations with the Moscow Patriarchate are improving, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture Cardinal Paul Poupard told students of the Orthodox St. Tikhon Humanitarian University on Monday.

Poupard said the Vatican never wanted to make Russia a Catholic country. The Holy See is praying for a Christian Russia and further preaching by Orthodox and Catholic disciples, he said.

The cardinal admitted differences between Orthodox and Catholic clerics as members of one and the same family.

The two churches want to speak about their belief, he said, adding that at the meeting he was wearing a cross he had received from Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia Alexy II.

The atmosphere of inter-church relations has changed, Apostolic Nuncio to Russia Archbishop Antonio Mennini said. He said they could affirm Christian values together and be friends.

The Russian Orthodox Church feels that it is respected by the Holy See, the archbishop said. The Vatican regards the Russian Orthodox Church as the national church and welcomes the opportunity to meet and learn about the Russian religious tradition, he said.

May it please God to soften the hearts and open the minds of the Patriarchate of Moscow to understand the beauty of the Unity of the Faith!

And may the Orthodox also come to terms with the reality of our Eastern Catholic Churches. Accusations that we are mere dupes or saboteurs hoping to "Romanize" the Orthodox would be laughable if not that so many seem genuinely to believe them. It is irrational to demand that we Eastern Catholics cease to exist before the Orthodox agree to enter serious dialogues with Rome towards Reunification.

O Most Holy Trinity: Make the divisions of the Churches to cease!


Ecgbert said...

This news story seems like a strip-cartoon version of what Rome probably really said.

Based on Roman Catholic teaching that it is the one true church it can't say it doesn't want Russians to be under Rome.

What it really teaches and has practised for 40 years is a policy of not trying to compete with the Orthodox or create and use Byzantine Catholic churches to hurt them/steal people.

The goal is and always has been a kind of corporate reunion on Rome's terms - basically Orthodoxy with the papacy and its claims glued on top of it, the whole Russian Church and indeed the Orthodox communion as a kind of super-Byzantine Catholics.

Not to replace Russian Orthodoxy with Roman Rite Catholicism old or new. A nuance I'm sure many journalists don't understand so it gets dumbed down to 'Rome never wants to make Russia Catholic'.

Also, to be fair, as it is Interfax, it could be a mistranslation from people not entirely fluent in English.

As presented it seems to say Rome is now indifferentist, just the thing to set off well-meaning Roman traditionalists.

Joining you in your prayer at the end of your entry, Father. Da vsi jedino budut.

Anonymous said...

Problematic to me is that some of this Muscovite appeasement on the part of the Roman party leaves little room for freedom of choice in the realm of religion. If, by accident of Providence (hehehe) you are in Russian "airspace" but become convicted of the truth of Roman arguments, what is to be done?

More than a few Ukrainian Greek Catholic families are in Russia, and more than a few Russians, with access to the world wide web and knowledge of English/Italian/Polish etc have stumbled on to Catholic webpages and found themselves in agreement with the claims made therein.

A few years back - actually almost a decade - I found myself in the back of a UGC parish in Chicago, where I met, three Russian immigrants. Far from being evangelized/proselityzed into "uniatism" these fellows - all with philosophy training - had read their way into the Catholic Church and come to accept Catholic claims about the Petrine ministry.

Their presence somewhat bemused the Ukrainians who were not sure what to make of it. They were rather quiet members who did not make too many waves...

So I guess what is bothersome to me is what is to be done about those pesky types in Russia who are either of Catholic familial background or otherwise become convicted of the claims Rome makes about herself? Well we allow them the same opportunities to follow their beliefs as Italians, French, Mexicans, etc who have gone Orthodox?

Will we close the door on persons who come to believe what we believe to be true, because they live in a geographic region that is off limits?

Ecgbert said...

ASimpleSinner, the answer is in Rome's quest for corporate reunion those individual conversions are not solicited but, because of Rome's claim to be the one true church, they are accepted... quietly.

IOW no proselytism and to call soliciting Russian Orthodox people 'evangelism' is insulting to the Orthodox, whom Rome considers a church with real bishops and a real Eucharist.

Out of respect for the local Orthodox the Romans don't solicit unchurched Russians either.

Historically this passive acceptance of conversions is exactly how the small Russian Byzantine Catholic Church came into being: members of the intelligentsia on their own reading their way into accepting the Roman claims.