Matt C. Abbott
A Catholic Russia?
By Matt C. Abbott
February 25, 2017

A brief news item followed by a book review:

From Aid to the Church in Need (Feb. 21):
    The Foreign Office of the Moscow Patriarchate held an international seminar at the end of January, during which the Orthodox and Catholic churches jointly addressed the issue of abortion....

    Both churches share a deep anxiety in the face of the million-fold killing of unborn children. When Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow met in Havana one year ago, the protection of life – besides the persecution of Christians in the Middle East – was one of the most important issues mentioned in their joint declaration. The Moscow seminar was thus a direct result of this historic meeting.

    The protection of life is an issue on which the two churches completely agree, also in terms of theology. This makes it easy to take joint, concrete steps in the spirit of ecumenism. The seminar focused on analyzing the situation, but also and particularly on finding solutions. The seminar was a platform for personal encounters and for an intense and constructive exchange of experiences. The Catholic Church has vast international experience on this front and the Orthodox Church can learn from this.

Review of James Likoudis' book Heralds of a Catholic Russia

By Therese-Marie Williams

Well-known Catholic writer James Likoudis [father of the late Catholic journalist Paul Likoudis] has written three books and many articles dealing with Catholic-Eastern Orthodox relations. They examined the ecclesiology of Russian and Greek Orthodox theologians attempting to justify their centuries of separation from full communion with the Apostolic See of Rome.

In his latest book he gives the accounts of 10 Russian, one Rumanian, one Greek and one Greek-American who overcame long-standing prejudices of families and governments, as well as serious theological misconceptions concerning the papacy, to become Catholics. These accounts constitute one of the most powerful apologias for the papacy – and this by Eastern Byzantine-rite Christians – who came to realize that the spiritual and mystical life of the Church cannot be separated from its Petrine hierarchical structure. The Mystical Body of Christ was incomplete without the visible head the Divine Savior had provided for the government of His Church.

These are fascinating accounts of heroic men and women who struggled to overcome the prejudices of medieval anti-Latin Byzantium and 19th century Czarism and Slavophilism against Catholicism. There is the remarkable figure of Madam Sophie Swetchine, exiled from the Russia she loved to gather about her Salon in Paris the Catholic intellectual elite of France. The fascinating Jesuit Ivan Gagarin and the Barnabite Gregory Petovitch Schouvalov felt the object of their lives was to pray and work for the reunion of the Russian and other Slav peoples with the Catholic Church. They organized associations of prayer for the reconciliation of Russian Orthodoxy with the See of Rome.

The greatest of Russian philosophers, Vladimir Soloviev, is noted as one of the most brilliant apologists for Catholicism with his book Russia and the Universal Church, which would influence many Russians, some of whom are found in this work. Two heroic martyrs for the faith, Roumanian priest Blessed Vladimire Ghika and the Russian Exarch for the little group of Russian Catholics, and Blessed Leonid Feodoorov, would both die in Communist gulags.

There is also the inspiring portrait of the brilliant Princess Elizabeth Volkonskaia (1838-1897), who has been termed "the woman theologian and Church historian who inspired the Russian Catholic movement in the XIX century." She wrote two books defending the papacy against the historical and theological errors of Russian Orthodox theologians.

The Greek Helle Georgiadis, a teacher in England, and the Russian Dr. Irene Posnov, living in France, were active in publications promoting a genuine ecumenism in their countries. Helene Iswolsky taught many years at Fordham University and Seton Hill College, and is better known among Americans for her books Soul of Russia and Christ in Russia as well as important articles in the ecumenical quarterly "The Third Hour."

Russian Count George Bennigsen and James Likoudis, whose parents were Greek immigrants, expose the fatal weaknesses in Eastern Orthodox teaching on the Church's Infallibility. In effect, there can be no Church infallibility without the papacy.

Chapter XIII, "On Church Unity and the Conversion of Russia Prophesied by Our Lady of Fatima," will be of particular interest to Catholics devoted to the Mother of God under that title. In authentic apparitions sanctioned by the Church, Our Lady came to three children in Portugal in 1917 with her message of penance, the reality of hell, the need for reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the scourge of world Communism.

It is her promise of the conversion of Russia and consequent period of world peace that has been the subject of fierce debate in Catholic circles. Many writers have held that the conversion of Russia meant only the end of the anti-Christ Soviet state accompanied by a new birth of political and religious freedom, or the revival of Christian faith among the Russian people.

It is unfortunate that certain Catholic ecumenists, fearing to offend Russian Orthodox sensibilities, have upheld that Our Lady prophesied only a revived Russian Orthodox Church, not the promise of a Catholic Russia. How a Catholic Russia could possibly come about seen the centuries of anti-Catholic prejudice and 70 years of savage persecution and suffocation of faith under Communist atheism is admittedly difficult to envisage. But the astonishing events of Our Lady of Fatima's apparitions, including the miraculous "Miracle of the Sun" and the unique role she expected the successors of Peter to play regarding Russia, surely envisages something equally spectacular in the future.

Mr. Likoudis presents a convincing and compelling case for his thesis. Why should not a Catholic Russia result from the sustained ecumenical efforts encouraged by the popes and culminating in the doctrinal reconciliation of Russian Orthodoxy with Rome?

Click here to read an additional review of Mr. Likoudis' book.

Copies of Heralds of a Catholic Russia ($19.95) can be obtained directly from the author:
    James Likoudis
    P.O. Box 852
    Montour Falls, NY 14865
© Matt C. Abbott


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. Abbott has been interviewed on MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 'Unsolved' podcast, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wis., and has been quoted in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and other media outlets. In 2005 and 2006, he was among the first writers to expose former cardinal Theodore McCarrick's abuse of power with and sexual harassment of seminarians. He can be reached at

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