Saturday, April 29, 2006
Status of the Catholic Church in Russia

Zenit recently published a very enlightening article on the growth of the Catholic Church in Russia following the re-establishment of the Church there, which began on April 13, 1991.

Here is part of the article:

Q: How has the Catholic Church in Russia transformed itself after the re-establishment of its structure 15 years ago?

Archbishop Kondrusiewicz: Here I think it's necessary that I speak of statistics. At the end of the '30s of the last century, only two Catholic churches remained in Russia, along with two priests.

We grew a bit in 1991 as 10 parishes were registered "officially." To register, means to present oneself at the Russian Ministry of Justice to be able to have juridical status and status of a physical person.

Also working were seven priests, two of whom were older than 80; there were four chapels and two churches. That was all! There wasn't anything else!

At present, after 15 years, we now have an episcopal conference, not very large because there are only three bishops, four archdioceses, close to 225 parishes and around 25 organizations, such as the seminary; Caritas, which has developed very strongly in the different archdioceses; Radio Maria in St. Petersburg and Radio Don in Moscow, among others.

We also have more or less 270 priests and 250 nuns; in both cases the majority are foreigners, from 22 different countries.

Little by little we are forming priests and, for example, 10% of them are now of Russian origin.

As to the number of Catholics, there are about 600,000 in the territory of the Russian Federation, though some studies point out that they comprise 1% of the population, that is, just under 1.5 million Catholics. However, many are in diasporas or are still afraid to declare their faith, and they must be sought and gathered.

Continuing with the statistics, of the 225 parishes, close to 25% of them do not have their own church. They do not have a place to pray, so they must find an alternative site.

We also have a seminary in St. Petersburg, "Mary, Queen of the Apostles," where about 50 seminarians are studying. The first priest was ordained in 1999, eighty years after any Catholic priest had been ordained in Russia!

In the archdiocese of Moscow there are seven publishing houses that, over these 15 years, have published close to 600 different publications in Russian. So imagine, if every parish priest had at least one copy of each of them, he would have a library!

© Innovative Media, Inc.

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