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Re: From the Moscow Patriarchate #110644 08/09/02 01:48 PM
Joined: Jun 2002
Posts: 83
Gerard Serafin Offline
Joined: Jun 2002
Posts: 83
Come, Holy Spirit!

Brendan writes:

I don't think anyone is denying the Vatican the right to care for its own flock in Russia or in other predominantly Orthodox nations. However, many in Orthodoxy would deny the Vatican the right to set up missionary organizations targeted at people in a traditionally Orthodox country where the Orthodox church has been subject to varying degrees of state persecution for 70 of the last 80 years. And then to say, hey "it's a level playing field" is like adding salt to the wound.

It seems to me that the key here is that we both accept the Catholic Church's right to minister to its own flock in Russia.

As Bishop Thaddeus says in his Letter to Metropolitan Kyril:

"Contrary to the above, we consider that the Catholic Church in Russia - in agreement with the norms of Canon Law, with actual Russian law and within the ethics of interchristian relations - has the right :

- to have normal structures,
- to preach the Gospel to all,
- to monastic life,
- to practice charity work for any needy people, regardless of nationality or creed,
- to train Russian clergy according to their free choice,
- to see to the spiritual needs of all Catholics.

In our opinion it is not correct to describe such activity as "enticement" and "temptation" for Russians.

You write that "The problem of proselytism consists not in the fact anybody sympathises with Catholicism or becomes a Catholic, for that in the end is the right of every individual, but in the fact that the Catholic mission encourages undecided people towards that decision."

I cannot agree with such an explanation of "proselytism", for according to this logic, the mere presence of Catholics in Russia amounts to "proselytism". This is saying that any Catholic church building, any Catholic book can "encourage undecided people towards this choice".

In this letter it is made perfectly clear that the Catholic Church does not consider Russia a mission territory and that she considers the Russian Orthodox Church the major Church of Russia. Once again, the grace-giving nature of Orthodoxy is clearly affirmed.

Unfortunately the Letter and Reply whose URLs were given is incomplete in the English translation; it just breaks off in the middle of a word. But I translated the rest of it by Alta-Vista with gives at least its gist.

I hope to get the Russian complaints and the Catholic reply on my website one of these days - or at least point to the URLs. It is a fascinating "dialog!"

Re: From the Moscow Patriarchate #110645 08/09/02 03:18 PM
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 7,309
StuartK Offline
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 7,309
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Gerard Serafin:

>>>It seems to me that the key here is that we both accept the Catholic Church's right to minister to its own flock in Russia.<<<

I have no problem with that proposition, but I do think that the Vatican's handling of the situation was ham-fisted in the extreme, and appears to be dictated more by internal Latin Church politics than by the pastoral needs of the Latin faithful in Russia. As far as anyone can tell, they were all doing just fine under an apostolic vicariate. The parishes were well ordered, they got what they needed. Granted, the apostolic vicars might not have received the deference they felt their due at Vatican conclaves, but that isn't what ministry is about, is it?

Let us assume, however, that there was a pressing need to upgrade these vicariates into dioceses. To elevate them as dioceses named after Russian cities in which there were already established Orthodox dioceses violates the principle of territoriality, and gives the appearance of setting up a parallel hierarchy. That not only showed a lack of respect for Orthodox sensibilities, it undermines the Latin Church's assertions that it views the Orthodox as Sister Churches. Better, from an ecumenical and diplomatic perspective, to retain the figleaf of territoriality, by taking a page directly from the Orthodox playbook: Instead of creating a Diocese of Smolensk, or a Diocese of Vladivostok, or whatever, make the Holy Bishops involved titularies of some fly-blown village in Calabria or Sicily. After all, Kyr Kallistos is not Bishop of Oxford (though he deserves to be), he is Bishop of Deicleia (even Carmen Sandiego can't find that place); Vladyko Vsevolod is Archbishop of Scopelos, not of Chicago (what would Cardinal George say?). It may not be the typical Latin way, but it would have provided a face-saving way out for everyone. After all, does not Paul say that the strong in faith should not undermine their weaker bretheren?

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