Vatican Policy in Russia


#1

An interesting perception concerning not only the Russian Orthodox and the Vatican but also the Ukrainian Patriarchate.

"The great irony of John Paul’s “Russia policy,” according to observers here, is that the pope who began by rejecting John XXIII’s and Paul VI’s Ostpolitik – a policy of softening tensions with the Soviets, which a young Karol Wojtyla saw as lacking nerve – is today recycling that Ostpolitik in an ecumenical key. The Soviets are gone, but the “don’t rock the boat” mentality survives. Replace “socialism” with “Russian Orthodoxy,” and the picture is the same: a strategy of de-escalation through soft policies and softer speech.

There is a consensus that John Paul has gone to extraordinary lengths to advance relations with the Russian Orthodox, whose doctrinal and liturgical traditions he obviously reveres – so much so, in fact, that some Catholics fear the local church is being sacrificed in the bargain. Protestantism in Russia is growing by leaps and bounds, they say, while the Catholic church sits on the sidelines for the sake of a murky ecumenical moment that never seems to arrive.

Make no mistake: Russian Catholics are fiercely loyal to the papacy, and they feel a special bond with John Paul. At the same time, however, some wonder if the approach to Catholic/Orthodox relations in John Paul’s Vatican doesn’t end in the same stance Wojtyla himself once abhorred: accommodation…"

ncronline.org/NCR_Online/archives2/2004c/091704/091704a.php


#2

This article is a disgrace to both Catholicism and journalism. The comparison of a Christian church with indubitably valid orders and sacraments to the Soviet Empire is both insulting and stupid. Orthodoxy is not the enemy. It is a sister church, and thank God that JPII understands this even if Catholic chauvinists (liberal or conservative!) don’t. Why do Russian Catholics think their Western form of Christianity is supposed to grow in Russia? Latin-rite Catholicism ought to be limited to those whose ethnic heritage is Western (or who have been converted by Westerners). Apparently many Catholics have bought into the vicious Protestant capitalist-Darwinist-virus view of confessional identity.

If there is one thing I’ve read recently that makes me impressed with the Catholic Church, it’s this article. Catholic priests in Russia are doing exactly what I’ve tried to argue to my Methodist friends (including my wife!) that Protestants should do (both in Catholic and Orthodox countries–I should add that Methodists are not aggressive proselytizers and are hardly the worst offenders; they just happen to be the Protestant group, not counting Anglicans, with whom I have the most dealings these days). The Orthodox Church is the rightful faith of the Russian people. It is a valid Christian church, and Catholic efforts toward reunification should be directed toward the bishops and not directly toward the laypeople. God bless the Pope, and God confound the bigots and chauvinists on both sides.

In Christ,

Edwin


#3

[quote=Contarini]This article is a disgrace to both Catholicism and journalism.
[/quote]

Regardless of your feelings on the question, the article is hardly a disgrace to either Catholicism or journalism. Mr. Allen is reporting on the situation, what people on both sides of the question are saying and offering information from them as to why they feel the way they do with regard to both churches. Thinking and reporting on a situation have not yet become political or religious “sins”. It is helpful to know again, without regard to one’s position in the matter, the what and why of the other side.


#4

[quote=Contarini]This article is a disgrace to both Catholicism and journalism.
[/quote]

Regardless of your feelings on the question, the article is hardly a disgrace to either Catholicism or journalism. Mr. Allen is reporting on the situation, what peole on both sides of the question are saying and offering information from them as to why they feel the way they do with regard to both churches. Thinking and reporting on a situation have not yet become political or religious “sins”.


#5

[quote=HagiaSophia]An interesting perception concerning not only the Russian Orthodox and the Vatican but also the Ukrainian Patriarchate.

"The great irony of John Paul’s “Russia policy,” according to observers here, is that the pope who began by rejecting John XXIII’s and Paul VI’s Ostpolitik – a policy of softening tensions with the Soviets, which a young Karol Wojtyla saw as lacking nerve – is today recycling that Ostpolitik in an ecumenical key. The Soviets are gone, but the “don’t rock the boat” mentality survives. Replace “socialism” with “Russian Orthodoxy,” and the picture is the same: a strategy of de-escalation through soft policies and softer speech.

There is a consensus that John Paul has gone to extraordinary lengths to advance relations with the Russian Orthodox, whose doctrinal and liturgical traditions he obviously reveres – so much so, in fact, that some Catholics fear the local church is being sacrificed in the bargain. Protestantism in Russia is growing by leaps and bounds, they say, while the Catholic church sits on the sidelines for the sake of a murky ecumenical moment that never seems to arrive.

Make no mistake: Russian Catholics are fiercely loyal to the papacy, and they feel a special bond with John Paul. At the same time, however, some wonder if the approach to Catholic/Orthodox relations in John Paul’s Vatican doesn’t end in the same stance Wojtyla himself once abhorred: accommodation…"

ncronline.org/NCR_Online/archives2/2004c/091704/091704a.php
[/quote]

I’m still figuring out how this article is either stupid or a disgrace since John L. Allen is simply giving us the facts as he sees them.

I just got his new book The Inside Story of How the Vatican Really Thinks: All the Pope’s Men L. and I was planning to post certain interesting excerpts from his book. Now I’m afraid to do so and get a response like “it’s stupid and a disgrace.”

Antonio :confused:


#6

Is it anything like Avro Manhattan’s Vatican Imperialism in the 20th Century?


#7

[quote=Antonio B] Now I’m afraid to do so and get a response like "it’s stupid and a disgrace.:
[/quote]

Please do start a thread on it - John Allen is a good reporter and I have been wondering about his new book.


#8

It’s not Mr. Allen’s reporting per se that is the problem. Actually the body of the article is excellent. It’s his opening and closing comparison of the Orthodox Church to the Soviet Union. Can’t you see just how incredibly insulting that is to fellow-Christians? How would you feel if the Catholic Church was compared to fascism? Actually, such comparisons do get made from time to time. And we all know how stupid and insulting that is. I don’t see how Mr. Allen’s remarks are any better. Instead of being offended, suppose you show how I’m wrong?

In Christ,

Edwin


#9

I respect John Paul II tremendously, and love him dearly, but the sort of Ostpolitik which Mr. Allen describes in this article is one of the few points of John Paul II’s pontificate which does trouble me. The faithful are people, not bargaining chips, and while I am all in favor of ecumenical outreach, we must not sacrifice the good of real Catholics to appease those who have broken from the unity of the Church.


#10

[quote=Myhrr]Is it anything like Avro Manhattan’s Vatican Imperialism in the 20th Century?

[/quote]

I could not possibly tell you if it is like the book “Vatican Imperialism in the 20th Century” because I never heard of that one. Was it written by John Allen?

Antonio :confused:


#11

[quote=HagiaSophia]Please do start a thread on it - John Allen is a good reporter and I have been wondering about his new book.
[/quote]

The more I read his book, the more I learn and find it fascinating. I heard him once in person and his audience did not miss a bit of what he said. He is very, very interesting!

Antonio :slight_smile:


#12

[quote=GrzeszDeL] Ostpolitik
[/quote]

Speaking of that subject - Cdl Casaroli’s diaries are now in print (sadly not yet in English) but I found the review riveting. A failed policy kept alive by the myth of dialogue.

"…That politics of negotiation was called Vatican Ostpolitik, and marked the Holy See’s international relations until 1989, the year the Berlin Wall fell and the soviet empire collapsed.

Four decades have passed since that first accord, but the dilemma that the Church had to face then with the communist enemy is still present on the horizon, in the new global challenge represented by Islamism.

The dilemma was whether to resist, or negotiate - with the risks and sacrifices that each of these could bring.

One of the sacrifices involved in negotiation - also called dialogue - was silence regarding the persecuted Churches, and regarding their persecutors…"

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=15007


#13

[quote=Contarini] Instead of being offended, suppose you show how I’m wrong?
[/quote]

I am not offended by the article - you claimed to be. I simply do not see such odius comparison, there is a two part theme with regard to Russia in this pontificate and I am sorry but I simply do not perceive insults. I liked it and thought it informative. I do not feel that it is incumbent on me to “show you” anything.


#14

[quote=HagiaSophia]Speaking of that subject - Cdl Casaroli’s diaries are now in print (sadly not yet in English) but I found the review riveting. A failed policy kept alive by the myth of dialogue.

"…That politics of negotiation was called Vatican Ostpolitik, and marked the Holy See’s international relations until 1989, the year the Berlin Wall fell and the soviet empire collapsed.

Four decades have passed since that first accord, but the dilemma that the Church had to face then with the communist enemy is still present on the horizon, in the new global challenge represented by Islamism.

The dilemma was whether to resist, or negotiate - with the risks and sacrifices that each of these could bring.

One of the sacrifices involved in negotiation - also called dialogue - was silence regarding the persecuted Churches, and regarding their persecutors…"
[/quote]

CORRECTED LINK;213.92.16.98/ESW_articolo/0,2393,42237,00.html


#15

I just want to comment on something I’ve observed on this particular forum: anytime Catholic-Orthodox relations are mentioned, people on both sides tend to get extremely angry. Hardly behavior befitting anyone who calls themselves Christian, no matter what church or denomination they belong to.

As a Latin rite Catholic (I have no problem referring to myself as Roman, but that also causes a lot of bad feelings here), I admire the fact that the Holy Father is trying to make peace. I also feel that he should not be prevented from tending to his flock in Russia and elsewhere in Eastern Europe. Unfortunately, nothing will happen until people on each side set aside hostility and blame, and it doesn’t seem that is going to happen anytime soon.

I have a close friend who is Orthodox, and he is one of the most thoroughly Christian people I ever met. For years we’ve talked about our respective religions & learned from each other. Although neither of us has any intention of converting, I think we have a sincere interest in each other’s religious expressions. While occasionally we’ll say something to each other that doesn’t wash according to our respective beliefs, in 15+ years we have never resorted to fighting. If there is a lesson here, I guess it’s that we try to respect each other, and respect often seems to be sorely lacking in inter-faith discussions.

Once this friend told me that we have more similarities than differences. In fact, we have a running joke that he’s a catholic Orthodox & I’m an orthodox Catholic (emphasis on the capitals). I know this is a complicated issue and my little example may be too simplistic, but maybe if we concentrated more on seeing the similarities, things might be a little different. It seems to me that in this day & age, we should be worrying more about the dangers outside of Christianity.


#16

HagiaSophia wrote,

:I am not offended by the article - you claimed to be.:

I not only claimed to be, I was. However, my feelings are not important. The intrinsic injustice, rudeness, and thoughtlessness of the comparison is.

: I simply do not see such odius comparison,:

You deny that he began the article by making a comparison between Western “accommodation” of the U.S.S.R. and current Vatican policy toward the Orthodox? And that he ended it by another reference to “accommodation?” You really don’t see anything wrong in comparing a Christian church with apostolic succession and sacraments and saints to an atheistic dictatorship? Or comparing an attempt to reconcile fellow-Christians with the See of Rome to a political attempt to pacify a vicious and brutal regime? If this isn’t offensive, what is?

Greg, I’m afraid I have the same objections to your position. The Pope is not engaging in “bargaining.” He is reaching out to valid churches that are not in full communion with the See of Peter. Catholics are not being treated as bargaining chips. They are not being deprived of the Word or the Sacraments. They are simply being told not to take advantage of the current weakness of the Russian Church in order to poach on its historical and canonical territory. This is only an injustice if one takes a thoroughly Protestant, modern, capitalist view of the Church in which the purpose of existing is to expand one’s organization as an end in itself.

The story to which you link of Romanian would-be converts being told not to convert is a bit more dubious. But on the other hand, they were under the authority of valid bishops. It seems to me that the Catholic attitude is and ought to be that reunion must occur through the episcopate, since they have valid authority. The task of the Orthodox faithful is to submit to their valid bishops and pray for reunion.

This is a somewhat theoretical exercise for me, since I belong to a church whose orders you guys don’t recognize. So probably I shouldn’t get involved in this.

In Christ,

Edwin


#17

Accomodation refers to a technique or a method of operation - it does not imply that the Orthodox and the USSR were being compared as entities.


#18

That’s a copout. The comparison implied that the relationship between Catholics and Orthodox is in some way like that of the West and the Communist world.

There is one reason and one reason only why accommodation with Communism was wrong. That is because Communism was a totalitarian “evil empire” and accommodation with it was a betrayal of its victims and showed a naive unawareness of its ultimate intent to dominate the world. The use of the same language of “accommodation” only makes sense if Orthodoxy also shares these traits. Otherwise the comparison is utterly senseless.

Edwin


#19

I think one of the key problems here is that the Orthodox Church is not prepared for the change in demographics that faces them. The advances in travel have changed religious and ethnic mixes in large parts of the globe. Russia has been ‘protected’ from this by the closed system of communism and laterly financial impoverishment. If Russia does achieve a decent level of prosperity, it will be like Europe, economic migration will result in a large influx of non - christians, Catholics and Protestants. How that will all pan out is anyone’s guess.My respect for Orthodoxy will be clear to anyone familiar with my posts but I do wonder about the Russian ‘not on our patch’ mentality whilst the Catholic Church makes no complaints (that I’m aware of) about Russian Orthodox, Russian Church Abroad or the OCA (which I believe has a large Russian population)…


#20

[quote=JGC]I think one of the key problems here is that the Orthodox Church is not prepared for the change in demographics that faces them. The advances in travel have changed religious and ethnic mixes in large parts of the globe. Russia has been ‘protected’ from this by the closed system of communism and laterly financial impoverishment. If Russia does achieve a decent level of prosperity, it will be like Europe, economic migration will result in a large influx of non - christians, Catholics and Protestants. How that will all pan out is anyone’s guess.My respect for Orthodoxy will be clear to anyone familiar with my posts but I do wonder about the Russian ‘not on our patch’ mentality whilst the Catholic Church makes no complaints (that I’m aware of) about Russian Orthodox, Russian Church Abroad or the OCA (which I believe has a large Russian population)…
[/quote]

Excellent points. The world is changing so rapidly that even the pope remarks it is the scene of a massive human migration not seen before in man’s history.


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