In 1917, Our Lady promised that Russia would be converted to the Faith and that her Immaculate Heart would triumph. In 1991, the Soviet Union finally collapsed, but the Catholic Church in Russia still experiences persecution and suffers from an acute shortage of priests and religious vocations.
Ten years ago, the Catholic Church in Russia had 96 priests serving a vast territory that covers hundreds and thousands of miles. The Latin Rite Church is divided into two main areas, Asian and European Russia. Although there has probably been an upsurge in religious and priest vocations in the last ten years, the situation of the Catholic Church in Russia still not very good.
Aside from the shortage of priests, many parishes in Russia do not possess their own church buildings. Many of them will rent halls for Mass. Sometimes, however, it simply is not possible to pay rent and the stipends for the priests that celebrate the Sacraments. One reason for this situation is that the Communist government of Russia confiscated many churches in Russia during the Revolution in 1917. Many parishes are hoping to regain their buildings by petitioning the government. It may be possible to do this in St. Petersburg, where the major seminary is.
Aside from the Catholic Church united with the Vatican, there are traditionalist groups that have made in-roads into Russia. There is a young Catholic seminarian studying for the priesthood, who will be ordained by Bishop Mark Pivarunas, CMRI this coming October in Spokane.
The SSPX also had its own chapel in Moscow until earlier this year. The priests told their parishioners to attend the vernacular Mass. According to Bishop Pivarunas, it is hoped that many of these Catholics will also attend the Latin Mass. With the advent of the Motu Proprio, however, it is to be hoped that the Latin Mass will be available outside of these groups.
However, the greatest opponent to the expansion of the Catholic faith in Russia is the Russian Orthodox Church. As the national religion of Russia, Russian Orthodoxy not only holds sway over a great majority of believers, but it also has the support of the government. In Russia, as in some other European countries, the government subsidizes the Church to a great extent by paying salaries and for the upkeep of church buildings. Some funds may also come from the donations of parishioners within these parishes.
It seems to me that Catholic Church in Russia is in a very precarious situation. Although efforts are being made to remedy it, it seems to me that we are not doing enough. Therefore, let us pray to God for Russia’s conversion.
Our Lady of the Angel, pray for us!