A First for Russia in 90 Years As Conversion Gradually Takes Place
October 28th, 2007
On October 27, 2007, for the first time in 90 years, since the Communist Revolution in 1917 a bishop was consecrated for the Catholic Church on Russian soil. The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in central Moscow was packed for the ordination.
The new Bishop, Paolo Pezzi, a 47 year-old Italian theologian thereby became the Cathlic spiritual head of the Church in Russia’s capital. Pezzi had been rector of the Catholic seminary in St. Petersburg. The ceremony, 4 PM to 7 PM invoked three languages: Russian, Italian and Latin. The consecration was in Latin. The Russia Orthodox Patriachate in Moscow sent two representatives who were given seats of honor in the front of the church.
The principal consecrator and homilist was Archbishop Tadeuz Kondrusiewicz, who has led the Catholic Church in Russia since 1991 through the period of its slow re-emergence from the catacombs of the communist period. I met Archbishop Kondrusiewicz in Fatima shortly after his appointment to Russia and was invited to show him about Fatima Shrine in Portugal as he spoke English.
Subsequently he came to the Fatima Family Apostolate’s national Congress at the Fatima Shrine in Alexandria, SD. He then invited me to raise funds for Russia’s first Shrine in honor of Our Lady of Fatima which was in fact built attached to St. Catherine of Alexandria’s church in St. Petersburg. Pope John Paul II recognized this Shrine as did Sister Lucia of Fatima and on the day of dedication I delivered there a message from the Bishop of Fatima and Sister Lucia.
The transfer of Kondrusiewicz from the Archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow to be metropolitan Archbishop of Minsk-Mohilev, Belarus is by no way a lesser assignment. It is recognition of his magnificent work in Russia and the seat he inherits at Minsk is in fact a Cardinal’s seat of authority for many years.
Who knows if this 57 year old new Archbishop in “White Russia” - one who knows many languages and with whom I spent considerable time to get to know - could be a Cardinal considered for Pope some year down the line????
The new Catholic Bishop Pezzi in Moscow will likely focus his efforts on the cultural, spiritual and theological riches of the western and eastern traditions which may prove to be a time of intensive new developments in Catholic-Orthodox relations. To learn more about Russia’s first Shrine to OUR LADY OF FATIMA click into Russian Shrine, etc. on this site. See above and to the side.
TO CATHOLICS IN RUSSIA
It was not surprising to the Fatima Family Apostolate to learn that Archbishop Kondrusiewicz spoke with emotion and there were tears in his bidding farewell to Catholics of Russia. I witnessed his tears in 1992 when I showed him about Fatima, and with permission, led the Archbishop to the very spot where the Mother of God stood when she appeared.
In Russia then he had but a tiny apartment, no staff, came to live alone in Moscow, no friends, no funds, no resources except his love and faith. I stood with the Archbishop before the miraculous statue in the Little Chapel of apparitions with one hand on the feet of Our Blessed Mother’s image and the other hand on the Archbishop’s shoulder and said: ”Archbishop, here is where the Mother of God stood and said, `RUSSIA WILL BE CONVERTED’.
You have been chosen Archbishop to lead souls in Russia to that conversion.” The Archbishop attempted to hold back his tears as he fell to his knees before he very spot where the mother God God appeared.
Now Pope Benedict XVI sends him to a difficult assignment in Minsk, and as a good soldier of Christ he obeys. Let us keep him in prayer.
Father Robert J. Fox - Director - FATIMA FAMILY APOSTOLATE