By a C.H. Reporter
That the Vatican and the
various Catholic missionaries now waiting abroad for a chance to enter Russia, are anxiously following events goes without saying. It is being asked : Does the apparent relaxation of the Soviet anti-religious stand offer Catholic priests hopes for a free exercise of their ministrations 7
Facts wOrth bearing in mind are:
(1). Russian Christianity, both Catholic , and schismatic. is for the most part characterised by the observance of a rite distinct from the Latin of Western Europe. Thus Rome's plans for the opening of a missionfield in Russia are centred on 'the preparation of a special priesthood, at the Russieum College in Rome and elsewhere, to work in that rite, known as thc Slav-Byzantine.
(2). The higher Russian Orthodox clergy (schismatic) are generally vehemently antagonistic to Roman claims.
(3). The recent gradual reopening of some churches in Russia sees the return to public worship of the older Russians, not the younger generation, to whom religion does not mean a thing.
HOPELESS WITHOUT SCHOOLS Thus while the revived Russian Church caters for the dying, the old, and perhaps the middle-aged, it has no chance of survival whatever while schools continue to be forbidden it unless help comes (0 it from younger Orthodox emigrees.
On the other hand, Catholic missionaries are building up the Ruesian Catholic Byzantine Church' of tomorrow by attending to the needs of the young.' A splendid school at Shanghai or the Ruesiun rite is as popular as it is successful ; incidentally, two English Jesuits are 'on its staff. And the work of the Russicigar in this respect is far-famed.
I am reliably informed that close contact between our priests and the Orthodox clergy 34 people has resulted in the breaking down of many anti-Roman prejudices, as witness the success of the work of the Shanghai. College to which even Orthodox send their children. •
But this is not so where the higher Orthodox clergy are concerned, who sec a threat to their position and prestige in any Romail advance. It is possible, therefore, that opposition to Catholic missionaries in Russia may come from the Government as the result of pressure exercised by Orthodox Bishops.
SUSPICION OF THE EAST
The preparation of young Catholic priests of the Slav rite for work in Russia has nowreached a significant stage. Among Jesuits recently ordained are three Czechs, who celebrated the Liturgy on Easter Monday
at St. Mary Major's, Rome. Others have been ordained elsewhere.
While a regrettable ignorance and suspicion continues strong among Latin Cat holies regarding Eastern Christians, who have the same Mass and Seersmcnts, it is refreshing to note the traditionally conciliatory attitude of the Holy See. The new Russian missal, which came into force this month and which has been prepared at the Vatican, has given great satisfaction to Orthodox as well as Catholics. says the Vatican Radio, which adds the hope that " our separated brethren may make use of it now that they have no opportunity to print their own books."
Vatican Ruclio has recently staled that the Orthodox Clergy in Russia appear to maintain " their profound hostility to Rome." but it sees hope in the attitude of youth, who a completely ignorant of relteion are for that reason uneffeceed by the old prejudices." There is aiso, however, expressed the hope of a diminution of prejudice on the part of the Orthodox Clergy, and my information is that their lower ranks have been inspired by the selfsacrificing heroism shown by the few Catholics at work in Russia.