While I do not share the author’s opinion that Monsignore Vert is papabile - sure does seem like a rising “star” in the constellation…
First, on Jan. 19, Novosibirsk Bishop Iosif Vert was chosen to succeed Metropolitan Tadeus Kondrusevic as chairman of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Russia, the group that oversees and directs the religious life of more than 500,000 Russian Catholics…"
In April 1991, Vert became apostolic administrator for the Catholics of Siberia and was named bishop in June 1992 just before his 40th birthday. Ten years later, when John Paul II created four Catholic eparchates on the territory of the Russian Federation, Vert assumed the post he now occupies – head of the Preobrzhenskiy diocese of Eastern Siberia, where he has engaged in extensive missionary work especially among intellectuals and students. …"
"Moreover, Vert has had far greater opportunities than did Kondrusevic not only to reach out to intellectuals and ordinary Russians but also to travel abroad and to speak out on a variety of issues concerning the often-troubled relationship between church and state in the Russian Federation.
Second, at the time of his election as chairman of the Conference, Vert was singled out for special favor by the Vatican, Pozdnayev says. The nuncio in Moscow announced John Paul II had personally decided that Bishop Vert will now oversee Greek Catholics in the Russian Federation.
Because most Greek Catholics in Russia are located near the border with Ukraine, Vert will have expanded opportunities not only to increase his personal power but also to attract greater attention from Russian political leaders who are likely to see this ethnic German born in Kazakhstan as closer to them culturally than was the Polish Kodrusevic.
Indeed, Pozdnayev pointedly writes “the subtext” of Vert’s election is that the Vatican now understands “the first person of the Catholic Church in Russia ought to be a Russian” – and here he uses the non-ethnic “rossiiskiy” which would include the ethnic German Vert.
That Vert is sensitive to such attitudes and such possibilities was suggested by remarks he made during a November 2003 visit to Germany. At that time, he suggested: “Russians generally consider religion above all as a question of culture” (agnuz.info/>) rather than focusing on theological issues.
But the new chairman certainly knows he will have to work hard to gain the confidence of the Russian leadership. Catholics are not included in Russia’s Interreligious Council as one of the “traditional” faiths of the country and do not have good relations with many of the hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Anti-Catholic prejudices remain strong among many Russians who view Catholicism as a threat. (See, for example, (//nevskiy.orthodoxy.ru/center/sprav/katolicism.html). And President Vladimir Putin’s decision to make Nov. 4 – the anniversary of the expulsion of the Catholic Poles from Moscow – a national holiday may only exacerbate the situation. …"