May 22, 2000
volume 11, no. 96


    During this "month of Mary" and the focus on Fatima with the beatifications on May 13th of the Fatima Shepherd Children Jacinta and Francisco Marto by His Holiness Pope John Paul II, and with the debut of the DailyCATHOLIC now being published daily in Russian to reach all parts of the former Iron Curtain, we present a special series written by Father Robert J. Fox, director of the Fatima Family Apostolate and editor of the full color Immaculate Heart Messenger. We are delighted to work with Father Robert Fox in bringing you this special series on Our Lady's plans for the conversion of Russia. If anyone knows the temperature of the Faith in the former Soviet Union it is Fr. Fox. These articles first appeared in earlier issues of his full-color magazine Immaculate Heart Messenger which Fr. Fox edits and publishes. To order a subscription or to find out about other materials such as books and tapes or about the upcoming 18th Annual National Marian Congress to be held on the weekend of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary on June 9-11 at the Shrine in Alexandria, South Dakota, call the toll-free number: 800-721-MARY or 800-213-5541.


installment five:
Ecumenical Peace Sought

        In talking to Archbishop Kondrusiewicz and his priests I discovered that the Church's reconstruction will require ecumenical peace and they were most careful in their statements to remain charitable and objective and were carefully sensitive to orthodox sensitivities. Russian Orthodox leaders had criticized the Pope's appointments last spring. Some orthodox leaders have felt that the Catholic Church was proselytizing Orthodox peoples. Yet, last August 26 Orthodox Patriarch Alexei II joined Kondrusiewicz in a special thanksgiving service. In late September the Patriarch welcomed both Cardinal Johannes Willebrands, former chairman of the Vatican's Council for Christian Unity, and Cardinal Roger Etchegaray of the Justice and Peace Commission. Etchegaray lectured on Catholic social teaching to the Soviet Labor Academy.

        On October 22, 1991 brought good news amid growing tension between the Vatican and orthodox leaders in Eastern Europe. A new ecumenical patriarch, titular head of world Orthodoxy, was elected that day in Istanbul. The new patriarch, Bartolomeos of Chalcedon, 51, succeeded Dimitrios I as spiritual leader of the world's more than 200 million Eastern Orthodox Christians, grouped loosely in 14 independent, or autocephalous, Orthodox Churches around the world.

        The Ecumenical Orthodox Patriarchate, dating from the days of the Byzantine Empire, wields little more than moral authority over orthodox jurisdictions. Yet that is important if ever there is to be union with Rome. Ever since Patriarch Athenagoras met Pope Paul VI in Jerusalem in 1964, the Instanbul-based patriarchate has spearheaded efforts at rapprochement with the Vatican. Most Orthodox Church leaders served union with Rome almost 1,000 years ago. Unlike the Protestant Revolt, which resulted in a break from the Apostolic Chain and thus the loss for them of being able to hand down priestly powers in an unbroken line of apostolic succession from the days of Jesus Christ and the original Apostles, the Orthodox have had validly ordained bishops. Their priests are real priests with the power to consecrate bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ and thus perpetuate the Sacrifice of the Cross which is the essence of the Mass. Protestantism lacks a valid priesthood.

        Bartolomeos has been the leader of an annual Eastern Orthodox pilgrimage to Rome on the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul each year since 1989. He is a personal friend of Pope John Paul II.

        The problem with the Orthodox is very complex. The government of Turkey still considers that the Ecumenical Patriarchate is a Turkish institution and mandates that patriarchal candidates must be Turkish institution and mandates that patriarchal candidates must be Turkish citizens, a requirement which, apparently, removes the possibility of electing others. However, Our Lady is accomplishing wonderful things in the world today although many dangers remain and just as things have changed so drastically since 1989 in the former communist world-who knows the future?

        During the television dialogue between Moscow and Fatima last Oct. 13 the only tense moment came when an Orthodox deacon asked, "What are you Catholics trying to do?" But the overall good will of the people predominated and the live broadcast was carried more than once on Russian television.

    Tuesday: part six Reconstruction of the Cathedral

    Father Robert J. Fox

May 15, 2000
volume 11, no. 92

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