Polemic between Fr. Ladis J. Cizik
and Dr. Marian T. Horvat
on the handing over of
the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan
to the Russian Schismatic Church.
Brief Chronicle of Events
In December 2000, the monthly magazine Inside the Vatican featured an article on Our Lady of Kazan, entitled The Icon of Our Lady of Kazan by Marguerite Peeters. This icon is a miraculous Russian image that had been in the custody of the Blue Army since the ‘50s, when it received a good counsel to purchase the historical Icon and act as its custodian until, with Russia’s conversion as predicted at Fatima, it could be returned.
However, the Blue Army, acting this time on an unfortunate counsel, delivered the Icon to Pope John Paul II in the ‘90s so that he might return it to Russia – as a token of Russia’s “spiritual resurrection.” Peeters’ lead article reported that the imminent return of the icon to Russia is presently under discussion and would be a prophetic sign “that can be interpreted in the light of the message of Fatima.” That is to say, Russia’s conversion should not be considered in the “narrow Catholic interpretation” as conversion from Orthodoxy to Roman Catholicism. “Conversion,” according to the new version apparently supported by the Blue Army, seems to mean that Russia could remain in the errors of the Russian Schismatic church. Even now, according to the article, Russia would be experiencing a new springtime of graces, and the Fatima message would be fulfilled.
|The Icon of Our Lady of Kazan || |
On January 31, 2001, The Remnant published the article entitled Handing Over the Symbolic Icon of Our Lady of Kazan: A confirmation of a great crisis in the Church, by Dr. Marian T. Horvat. The writer refuted the above-mentioned interpretation of the conversion of Russia. She also questioned whether it would be opportune to return the symbolic Icon of Our Lady of Kazan at this time. She considered that the handing over of the Icon in reality reflects a crisis in the Holy Church that involves a radical change in moral and dogmatic principles.
On February 28, 2001, The Remnant under the heading Soul Editor Contends The Remnant Slandered Blue Army published a letter by Fr. Ladis J. Cizik. In that letter Fr. Cizik, the executive Director of The Blue Army and editor of Soul magazine, strongly objected to Dr. Horvat’s article and accused her of slandering the Blue Army.
On February 28, 2001, in the same issue The Remnant published the response under the title Dr. Horvat Explains. The writer observed to Fr. Cizik that he had offered no refutation of the facts she presented as the major premise of her article: that Russia had not converted and therefore it was shameful to return the Icon to the Schismatic Church. Therefore, there was no intention of slander of her part, but only the aim of presenting the truth. She invited him to engage in a public polemic on the topic.
To date there has been no response of Fr. Cizik to that invitation of Dr. Horvat.
February 2001, the monthly newspaper Catholic Family News published the article entitled The Myth of a Converted Russia Exposed by Dr. Marian Horvat. She continued the discussion of the subject with other arguments. She pointed out that a missionary in Russia, Fr. Daniel Maurer, in an interview with Catholic World Report (February 2001), provided evidence of a bleak picture of the religious reality in post-Communist Russia. According to his report, far from a new springtime of faith in present day Russia, the country is suffering in a moral and spiritual quagmire. Fr. Maurer also spoke of a new and shocking definition of conversion, which is no longer the primary aim of the missionaries. He gave evidence that the Vatican seems to be promoting a new kind of missionary work in Russia, in which conversion to the Catholic Faith is no longer the primary aim, and is even discouraged in order to promote the agenda of post-Vatican II ecumenism.
July 2003, according to rumors, John Paul II was planning a stopover trip to Russia in August on his way home from Mongolia to give the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan to Russian "Orthodox" patriarch Alexis II. In the article Will John Paul II Return the Icon of Kazan to an Unconverted Russia published in the July issue of Catholic Family News, Dr. Horvat criticizes that possibility, which deceitfully implies that Russia has converted in fulfillment of the Fatima promises. She also points out the constant insults of Alexis II to the Vatican in its attempts to arrange a visit for John Paul II and engage in dialogue.
Articles in the Polemic
Handing Over the Symbolic Icon of Our Lady of Kazan:
A confirmation of a great crisis in the Church
by Dr. Marian T. Horvat.
Soul Editor Contends The Remnant Slandered Blue Army
a letter to the editor by Fr. Ladis J. Cizik,
executive director of The Blue Army and editor of Soul magazine
Dr. Horvat Explains
Response to Fr. Cizik's letter
The Myth of a Converted Russia Exposed
by Dr. Marian Horvat
Will John Paul II Return the Icon of Kazan to an Unconverted Russia,
by Dr. Marian Horvat
Handing Over the Symbolic Icon
of Our Lady of Kazan:
A confirmation of a great crisis in the Church
Marian T. Horvat, Ph.D.
Published in The Remnant, January 31, 2001
There was a time when the Blue Army was representative of the message of Fatima in all its integrity, that is to say, a message about the future of the world, the Church Militant and the Church Triumphant. Our Lady promised a new era for humanity, in which her Immaculate Heart will triumph. Our Lady counseled the Church Militant about the need for prayer, sacrifice, good customs, and the particular devotion of the daily Rosary. These counsels were to help souls to reach Heaven and join the Church Triumphant, but also were a means to build on this earth the Reign of Mary.
As part of the message, Sister Lucia gave us to understand a special mission for Portugal, which would maintain the Faith. What does this mean? That Portugal would provide a link between the past and the future Christendom in preserving the true dogma of the Faith. Our Lady also spoke specifically of Russia as part of that new era. She said that Russia would convert if certain conditions were fulfilled, primarily the consecration of Russia by the Holy Father together with all the Bishops of the world to her Immaculate Heart. It is more than sad, it is tragic that this has not been done in full compliance with her command.
The Fatima message had a clearly militant character because it implied the victory of good over evil, not only a transformation of evil personal lives and customs, but also the fall of an evil social and economic regime, Communism. An important part of this message was that Russia “would be converted.” Therefore, the message in its full integrity also signifies a censure of the Greek Orthodox Church, which, as Catholic Church teaching clearly states, is a schismatic Church because, as Spirago’s Catechism explains, “it will not acknowledge the supremacy of the Holy See. Its denial of Papal infallibility also constitutes it heretical. And heresy is one of the greatest of all sins, when it is not the result of invincible ignorance … Thus, they call themselves the Orthodox Greeks while we call them the Schismatic Greeks.” This expression used by Our Lady, conversion, means that the Russian Schismatic Church was – and is – on the wrong pathway.
 Spirago/Clarke, The Catechism Explained (NY: Benzinger Bros, 1898), p. 99.
The New “Message” of Vatican Cardinals is Clearly Incomplete
Now, these were presuppositions of the message of Fatima for most faithful Catholics. However, the last twenty years have seen many efforts to moderate or distort its content. More recently, Cardinals Sodano and Ratzinger did their best to change the tonus of the message with their interpretations of the third part of the Secret, which is supposed to be the true and complete message of Our Lady from the hand of Sister Lucy. My point here is not to discuss the contents of the released text itself. Let me only state that I think that this text could be authentic, but it is not complete. The released text just does not completely fit with the ensemble of the prior message of Our Lady.
 On May 13, 2000, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican Secretary of State, made a brief interpretation of the message yet to be released. On June 26, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, presented a “Theological Commentary” on the released third part.
What is certain is that the Prelates’ interpretations of this released text are misleading and contradictory. What Cardinals Joseph Ratzinger and Angelo Sodano attempted to do was to relegate the “secret” of Fatima and its contents to the past. The message of Fatima is interesting insofar as it foretells the World Wars, the rise of Communism and, according to these prelates, the 1981 attempt on the life of John Paul II. It is still somewhat useful in that it preaches prayer and conversion. However, all having been said and done, according to the Cardinals, it is time to close the book on Fatima. The message from the Vatican: It is finished, over, part of the past.
What would this imply? That there is no more crisis in the customs. After all, we have a Pope who participates in events with rock entertainers famous for publicly debasing moral customs and with dancers sensuously gyrating in body tight leotards, who promotes youth rallies around the world that have been called “Catholic Woodstocks.” Instead of a crisis of customs, we have the blessing John Paul II is giving to the youth’s “adaptation to the modern day world.”
It would imply that there is no more crisis in the Church, even though many Fatima experts like Fr. René Laurentin and many high placed persons like Cardinal Silvio Oddi have sustained that the complete message to which they had access deals specifically with a crisis in the Church.
 In a recent book, Cardinal Oddi said, “According to the interpretation that seems most probable to me, the third secret … refers to a ‘revolution’ in the Catholic Church” (Quoted in We Resist You To The Face, LA: TIA, Inc., 2000, p. 75).
It would imply that there is no more need for the conversion of Russia. Communism is supposedly dead. This, despite the fact that Communism continues to live – not only with a new face in Russia and other countries, but with its old face in China, Vietnam, North Korea, Cuba…
And the time of peace that would be granted to the world after Russia’s conversion? The interpretations of Ratzinger and Sodano imply that we would be in this blessed time, despite the growing number of accounts of Muslim massacres of Catholics in East Timor, the Molucca Islands, the Congo, Sudan, Algeria, China, Pakistan and Indonesia. This despite the violent conflict between Israel and Palestine that was recently renewed and could spark a world conflagration.
Finally, it would imply that there is no more need for Russia’s conversion from the heresies of the Schismatic Church, even though the doctrine and the facts say the opposite. In the field of principles, it is enough to read the letter of St. Pius X regarding the schismatic errors to know that nothing has changed in the doctrine professed by the Schismatics. In the realm of facts, the Schismatic Church shows neither openness to the Vatican’s repeated calls for dialogue nor sympathy for Catholic works of evangelization in Russia. Quite the reverse, in fact, is the case. Schismatic Russian patriarch Alexis II has repeatedly refused to invite John Paul II to Moscow. Under pressure from Alexis II, the Duma amended a law on religious freedom to forbid any proselytism that attempts to attract believers away from the Schismatic Church. There is little freedom and few rights for the One, Holy and Apostolic Church. Alexis II complains continuously about the Catholic apostolate and the Catholic re-taking of property that Stalin handed over to the Schismatics under Communism, particularly in the Ukraine. So, despite the theater being staged to the contrary, the conversion of Russia has not yet occurred.
 From the Letter Ex quo of December 26, 1910. DR, 2147a.
The Handing Over of the Icon of Our Lady of Kazan
Why are Vatican organs trying to change the reality and drain all the seriousness from the message of the Mother of God?
The ecumenical initiatives of John Paul II provide at least one answer. In order to achieve his great desire to visit Moscow and be received by Alexis II, it is speculated, the Pope had to put the Fatima issue to rest. First, the announcement of the so-called third part of the secret of Fatima with interpretations that can imply that the conversion of Russia is already begun and well on its way to completion by the Schismatic Church. Then, on October 13, another act of “entrusting” the world to Mary – again, without any explicit mention of the consecration of Russia in order not to “provoke” the Communist leaders or Schismatic hierarchs. And now, with the support of the Blue Army and the enthusiastic applause of the progressivist and pseudo-conservative media, the Pope is prepared to deliver to the Russian Schismatic Church the most sacred icon of Russia, the miraculous image of Our Lady of Kazan, which was protected by the Blue Army in Fatima until the mid 1980’s.
 Marguerite Peeters, “The Icon of Our Lady of Kazan,” Lead story, Inside the Vatican, Dec. 2000.
This action would be “a prophetic sign that can be interpreted in the light of the message of Fatima,” the lead article by Marguerite Peeters in the December issue of Inside the Vatican glibly explains. The conversion of Russia must not be “narrowly interpreted” as conversion from Orthodoxy to Roman Catholicism. Not at all. Peeters appears to accept with complicity the private statement of a Russian Schismatic Archbishop: “Very few are those Catholics who would be so foolish as to think that the Mother of God would want to change Russian history. Russia is an Orthodox country. Therefore, conversion means returning to the Orthodox [Schismatic] Church.”
 Ibid., p. 14.
Accepting this same erroneous presupposition, Inside the Vatican editor Robert Moynihan stresses the urgency of delivering the statue “so that Russia can return to the faith” – not to the Catholic Faith, mind you, but to the heretical creed of the Schismatic Church. “Each day that passes, more Russians are being attracted away from Russian Orthodoxy to non-Orthodox faiths [read Catholic Faith],” he laments. “Therefore, Russians need the icon of Our Lady of Kazan as urgently as Pope John Paul needs to give it to them.” Why? Not for conversion to the true Faith, but to “save” an admittedly floundering Schismatic Church.
 Ibid., Introductory Editorial, p. 9.
The icon of Our Lady of Kazan, one of Russia’s most venerated icons, had been carried by generals into battles since the 13th century and is the symbol of Russian victory and liberty. The miraculous image of the “liberator of Russia,” considered as the very “soul of Russia,” was stolen from the Cathedral of Our Lady of Kazan in Petrograd in 1904 and disappeared from the East European scene. When the Communists took over Russia in 1917, they turned this great Cathedral into a museum of atheism.
Around 1950, the icon re-emerged in England. This is when the Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima, headquartered in Washington, New Jersey, received the very good counsel to redeem it in order to venerate it and return it to the people of Russia when the promises of Our Lady of Fatima would be fulfilled. A fund drive raised the needed capital, the icon was purchased and installed in a Byzantine chapel constructed for it in Fatima, with the Blue Army as its guardian. Everything was prophetically waiting for the conversion of Russia and the fulfillment of the prophecies of Fatima.
Then, more recently, someone had the very unfortunate idea to give the symbolic and miraculous icon to John Paul II so that he could bring it back to Russia, based on the false notion that the conversion was done, the promises fulfilled. The idea was accepted, and the icon was privately transferred from Fatima to the Holy Father’s apartments in Rome. Now, John Paul II is prepared to deliver the icon to Russia during his trip to the Ukraine next year with hopes it will be the ticket to his cherished meeting with Alexis II in Moscow.
If the first idea of purchasing the icon was genial, this second one was extremely lamentable, to say the least. The initiative would be the coronation of these erroneous interpretations – the death of Communism and the conversion of Russia – as well as an indirect assertion that the Russian Schismatic Church is not in error.
What was the glory of the Blue Army has become its shame. What was the confirmation of the message of Fatima – a crisis in the Church and Russia’s need to convert – was transformed to its negation. The group that Providence chose as the guardian for this symbolic icon became the one who, indirectly, will deliver the icon of Our Lady of Kazan to the Schismatic Church at the hands of a Pope.
What more can be said about this sad drama that is unfolding in our days? My opinion is that, if we look more profoundly, we see that this is actually a confirmation of the full message of Fatima. This handing over of the icon of Our Lady of Kazan confirms that there is, indeed, a grave crisis in the Church at present. My reasoning is very simple. The Russian Schismatic Church continues to spread the same heresies and errors that St. Pius X warned us against. Therefore, it did not convert. If some Catholic authorities deny that it is in error, they are denying the true Faith. And it seems that in some cases this is really happening. So, the shameful idea of the Blue Army to deliver the icon of Our Lady of Kazan before the real conversion of Russia has taken place actually confirms the message of Fatima: that there is a crisis inside the Church and that Russia needs to convert.
The Blue Army has reneged on its mission, rolled up its banners, claimed that the fight is over and the battle is won. But in reality, by this action, the Blue Army is confirming the message that it is trying to deny.
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Soul Editor Contends The Remnant
Slandered Blue Army
Fr. Ladis J. Cizik
Published in The Remnant February 28, 2001
Editor, The Remnant:
Peace be with you and The Remnant readers. I am writing in response to the article in your January 31, 2001 Remnant entitled “Handing Over the Symbolic Icon of Our Lady of Kazan,” by Marian T. Horvat. The article begins: “There was a time when the Blue Army was representative of the message of Fatima in all its integrity…” The article posits that there is a “crisis in the Church” since Pope John Paul II is believed to have plans to return the historic Icon of Our Lady of Kazan to the Russian people. The Blue Army is slandered for turning the Icon over to the Holy Father.
Let me assure you, the writer, and your readers that the Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima, contrary to the words of the article, has not “reneged on its mission” and “rolled up its banners.” We are, and continue to be, distinctive among most other Fatima apostolates in that we are officially approved and recognized as a “juridic person” in the Church. Our mission is to work in harmony with the Pope, and those bishops united with him, in promoting the Message of Fatima. We are proud of this fact and will stand up to those, such as the writer, who not only attack us, but the integrity of Pope John Paul II.
The official Vatican document, from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, entitled, “The Message Fatima,” makes reference to Pope John Paul II’s collegial consecration of March 25, 1984. It quotes Sister Lucia, the sole surviving seer of Fatima as saying: “Yes, it has been done just as Our Lady asked, on 25 March 1984.” The Vatican document notes: “Hence any further discussion or request is without basis.” The Remnant article continues this “discussion,” indicating that Our Lady did not keep her promise in regards to the “conversion of Russia.”
Our Lady keeps her promises. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the demolition of the Berlin Wall, among other evidences, it was time for the Blue Army to keep its promises. Arrangements were made with the Vatican for the return of the Icon of Kazan to the Russian people, as we had promised. The Blue Army did not publicize this move to give maximum flexibility to the Holy Father and avoid sensationalism that might jeopardize Catholic Church relations with the Russian Orthodox.
However, since the world press has now become aware of the Icon of Kazan being at the Vatican, numerous articles have begun to surface, often misrepresenting the facts or the motives of the Blue Army. It is time now for us to break our official silence. The miraculous Icon that belonged to the Russian people, was lost, was rescued by the Blue Army, was given refuge at our home in Fatima, Domus Pacis, and is now in the hands of the Vicar of Christ on earth, to do with as he sees fit.
The Blue Army believes in and lives the Fatima message, even to the extent of giving away its treasures, such as the Kazan Icon, for the good of the Church. We believe in and work in union with the Pope and those bishops united with him. This is the hallmark of the Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima. We can do no more and will do no less. Using the words of the Remnant article, this is not our “shame,” but has been, and will continue to be, our “glory.”
With prayers and best wishes, I am sincerely yours in Jesus through Mary,
In Union with Blessed Padre Pio, Blessed Jacinta and Blessed Francisco,
Father Ladis J. Cizik
Executive Director/Vice President
Editor of Soul Magazine
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Dr. Horvat Explains
Response to Fr. Cizik's letter
Published in The Remnant February 28, 2000
Editor: The Remnant:
The Rev. Father criticizes my article “Handing Over the Symbolic Icon of Our Lady of Kazan,” published in The Remnant (January 31, 20001). Applying criteria different from mine in his analysis, he concludes that I am “slandering” the blue Army.
In my article, I affirm:
1. The so-called Orthodox Russian Church has not converted, but continues to spread the same errors and heresies denounced by St. Pius X in his letter Ex quo of December 26, 1910.
2.Communism has not died, but continues to exist with the same face in many countries, and with a different face in the countries of Eastern Europe.
3.There is a very serious crisis installed inside the Holy Church, which involves a radical change in moral and dogmatic principles.
In view of these three major facts, I conclude that the conditions placed by Our Lady at Fatima were not met, that the message divulged by Cardinals Ratzinger and Sodano is incomplete, and therefore, that I consider it shameful to hand over the Sacred Icon of Our Lady of Kazan to the Schismatics, as if Russian had converted and we were already living in the Reign of Mary. In his letter, Fr. Cizik does not refute the facts I presented on these three items, but separates my conclusion from the whole, and then presents his organization as being “slandered.”
I can guarantee the Rev. Father that I did not have any malicious intention of offending the organization that he directs. My conclusion that the public handing over of the Icon to the Schismatics is shameful is not defamation. It is only the logical conclusion, in the religious domain, drawn from the facts that I presented. If Fr. Cizik wants to deny my conclusion, I would ask him the favor of demonstrating publicly and clearly that the major facts that I presented are false. If his arguments are convincing, I will modify my conclusion with all good grace. Let me make here, then, my amiable invitation to him to engage in a written debate on the matter.
Cordially, In Maria,
Marian T. Horvat, Ph.D.
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The Myth of a Converted Russia Exposed
Marian T. Horvat, Ph.D
Published in Catholic Family News, February 2001
There is a myth that being spun in Catholic public opinion, a fable about the new springtime of graces blowing into Russia when Communism supposedly fell in 1980s. Catholic magazines like Inside the Vatican have played their part in nourishing the myth by featuring optimistic stories on great movements of religion and conversion, the fulfillment of the prophecies of Our Lady at Fatima in 1917 (Robert Moynihan, “Russia’s Future,” Feb. 2000, pp. 13-24).
Never mind that what is “emerging from the catacombs” are the Schismatic [Orthodox] Churches, not the Roman Catholic Faith. As Robert Moynihan points out with almost giddy enthusiasm in one of his lead stories last year, John Paul II deeply admires the spirituality of the Orthodox East. So he “desires the ‘conversion’ and ‘renewal’ of both the Roman Catholics and the Orthodox [Schismatics], and is at pains to ensure that the Orthodox view the re-emergence of the Roman Catholic Church in Russia not as a challenge or threat to Russian Orthodoxy.” He sees no problem that conversion to the Catholic Church has been relegated to a secondary plane, so that no barriers are raised to the “miracle” of full reunion with the Schismatics.
Further, as Moynihan reminds us, to achieve this end the Pontiff is prepared for compromise. So much so “that he has stated in his encyclical on ecumenism, Ut unum sint that he is willing to face every obstacle to reunion, including a reconsideration of the way his own Petrine office carries out its mission” (Ibid., pp. 14-15)
As for the new springtime graces, Moynihan assures us that the atheists and agnostics are looking for a new faith. The Schismatics are seeking a new purity, independence and confidence. The Catholic Church is reaching out to both. It is a rosy picture of renewal, conversion, and yes, even a time of peace for the world.
That is why it was surprising to recently come upon what I suspect is a much more realistic, and grim, picture of the religious reality in Russia. In an interview in the February 2001 Catholic World Report, Fr. Daniel Maurer of the Canons Regular of Jesus the Lord (CJD) spoke about the Russia he has seen during the last eight years he has spent in Vladivostok in the Russian Far East. According to the personal missionary experience of Fr. Maurer, more than 75 years of Communist repression and a godless society have not only thoroughly eradicated the Catholic presence from Russia, but also left despair, poverty, an amoral populace, and religious indifference. With no incentive to be honest or to work to improve one’s condition in life, the result has been literally “the killing of the spirit of the Russians,” said Fr. Maurer. They have even coined a word for this new species of human being that developed under Communism – the homo sovieticus.
Point one: his words prick the rosy bubble of the new springtime fable. Point two: his report also sadly reinforces the notion of a new idea of conversion and the missionary character of the Church supported by Vatican II and John Paul II.
The “post-Communist” Reality – a Bleak Picture
What has been the result of the supposed death of Communism? According to Fr. Mauer, general hopelessness, a damaged sense of morals, and a lot of poverty. (During the financial crisis of 1998 when the bottom fell out from the ruble, people lost everything they had – for probably the third time since perestroika in late 1980s.) In a society where the faith was almost destroyed, morality has sunk to new low. Abortions abound, suicides have increased, and there are many more cases of sexually transmitted diseases. The same Russian who meets you on the street and genially offers directions and hospitality has no scruples about stealing your pocketbook. (There are bars on every window and doors with five locks everywhere). The spirit of initiative is broken and there is no quick repair job that can be applied. It’s too bad American atheists with all their comfortable theories about how religion is an artificial crutch can’t come and see what it is to live in a society without religion, Fr. Mauer comments wryly. It is a real hell on earth, a breeding bed for despair.
What about possibilities for conversion? Fr. Mauer seems realistic in his reply. The older people, who invested themselves more strongly in the ideology of Communism in the ‘20s and ‘30s, do not want to admit they were deceived. It is easier to believe that religion is the opium of people, and God does not exist. The youth are too apathetic to be moved by ideology or religious fervor; their primary concern is pragmatic: making money. The greatest interest in religion comes from people in their late 20s and 30s who are married with children, according to Fr. Mauer. However, even many of them would not resist a return to Communism if it would provide more stability and better economic opportunities. The result of the pragmatism of the communism system.
When Fr. Mauer and another priest arrived in Vladivostok in 1992, he found himself in a city of one million, with only six elderly women who could still remember being members of their Catholic Parish of the Most Holy Mother of God. The Catholic Church in the Far East had been persecuted to point of virtual extinction. After eight years, the number of parishioners has grown from six to 400, with only about 160 person at Sunday Mass. Hardly the new springtime of conversion.
And the situation of the Schismatic church? Statistics show now that about 54 percent of Russians are baptized Orthodox, but those practicing their faith are less that 1/10th of 1 percent. In Vladivostok, Fr. Mauer reports, the Communists destroyed all 28 Schismatic parishes in the city. Even though there are now five Schismatic parishes, there has been no rejuvenation or grand return to the Schismatic church. Because the Schismatic Church was so co-opted by the Communists, young people don’t want to join it, Fr. Mauer says. Further, many “problem people” – alcoholics, deviants, and the self-interested – were ordained and left a generally bad impression. Now they have to be weeded out.
The entrance of other denominations on the scene -- the Baptists, Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons – is welcomed by Fr. Mauer in the new spirit of ecumenism [“The more the merrier,” he says. After all, they can help teach the basics of the Gospel and morality. Besides, he notes, the Russian soul is attracted to mysticism and the solemnity of the Catholic liturgy, so after a while Protestantism isn’t enough, and they seek out Catholics.]
This situation, a general disillusionment with the Schismatic institution and a vacuum in the religious sphere would suggest conditions for a great missionary effort on the part of the Catholic Church that could bear much fruit.
A New and Shocking Definition of Conversion
But no, says Fr. Mauer, this is not the case at all, since conversion is no longer the primary mission of the missionaries. “John Paul II has told all missionaries going to Russia that we are forbidden to proselytize the Orthodox Christians,” he states complacently. “They [the Schismatics] are a true apostolic church, and rather than catching them, we should be praying for communion between the two churches.”
This stands in direct opposition to the age-old Catholic teaching where the Church instructed her sons and daughters to fight against “the perfidy of heretics and schismatics.” Until Vatican II, the goal of missions was to convert heretics, schismatics, Jews, and pagans from the errors they professed in order to bring them into the bosom of the Church. After Vatican II, missions came to signify a movement of the Church of openness toward heretics, schismatics, Jews and pagans – without asking for their conversion. As Fr. Mauer calmly states, proselytism is banned by the Pope himself. In the spirit of the new evangelization, the Church must adapt to others. Fr. Mauer’s words are an alarming indication of just deeply the new progressivist doctrine has been imbedded in good-willed but misguided missionaries.
What about the Fatima prophecy, in which Our Lady said that Russia would be converted? Yes, says the missionary priest, “but we don’t think it will be converted by becoming Roman Catholic. It was never a Roman Catholic country. … The conversion of Russia will certainly be through the Orthodox [Schismatic] Church. And then, we hope to have communion with the Orthodox Church. I don’t say union, but communion, because union in some people’s minds means they are coming back.” Therefore, union would mean the two patriarchs would accept one another again as equal brothers so that the Church will become one.
Behold the fruits of the Council’s opening toward other religions and the world: a false interpretation of the Message of Fatima and a relativization of the Faith. How can we explain an ecumenism that no longer seeks the conversion of heretics and schismatics and would have the Mother of God content with a return of Russia to a Schismatic church? What it does help to explain is the sparse apostolic fruit of John Paul II’s "new evangelization," in which there has been no widespread resurrection of Churches in either Western Europe or in the old Europe under communist domination, or even in Latin America.
A New Primary Goal of Missionary Work: Humanitarian not Spiritual
If the primary effort of Catholic missionaries is not to convert, what is it then? If the aim of the Canons Regular of Jesus the Lord (including their first Russian novitiate) is not first and foremost to bring the scattered sheep back into the Catholic fold and secure for them the promise of eternal salvation, then what are they doing?
Fr. Mauer has an answer. To help man. They have a food program that feeds 50 people daily. They opened the first crisis pregnancy center in summer 1998 (thanks to US funding), and hope to open five more (with help from the Knights of Columbus). With this base, they hope to start an adoption center, as a response to the great number of abortions. Statistically, the average Russian woman will have eight abortion in her childbearing years, stated Fr. Mauer, although he believes the actual number is more like 12 abortions per woman (and he has spoken to women who have had as many as 25 abortions).
The reasons for these horrendous figures? Since other contraception methods have not been introduced or are not trusted, abortion is the cheapest way to limit your family size (and Russians live in tiny apartments or homes where more than one child is considered impractical and a terrible burden – the opposite of a healthy Catholic mentality). Abortions are free, and births are not (the average cost of a birth is $20, a monthly salary for the average earner). Society ostracizes a mother who would “give away” her child, but not one who kills her baby (the warped, illogical mentality that developed in the first “civilized” country to legalize abortion in 1921).
Permit me a final short commentary. These efforts to feed the hungry and to promote adoptions are indeed commendable and worthy missionary efforts. But in the post-Vatican II era, such humanitarian efforts have come to supercede the primary missionary goal: the conversion of souls. The spiritual aim of conversion is being overridden by purely humanitarian works. Thus, the maxim of Mother Theresa’s sisters and so many of Catholic Charities services today: We don’t do what we do because the people we serve are Catholic or because we want them to be Catholic. But because we are Christian. The notion behind this is that there is a greater good that converting a soul to the one true Church of God; it is to help humanity. And there is a greater body to which to belong than the Roman Catholic Church; it is this ubiquitous, superior, all-encompassing Christian body that somehow embraces the Catholic Church as well as all the other “religions.”
And here we have the Masonic utopic dream of the creation of a new society based on a logic quite different from those who burn with a zealous fire to convert souls, like the great St. Isaac Jogues, Fr. Juniper Serra, Fr. DeSmet, St. Francis Cabrini, and so many other heroic figures of our American missionary past. In the new world order a-borning, this kind of religious fervor has to be extinguished. It is human beings and the well being of the universe that will be the central concern.
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