We are a universal Church. So, consideration of matters that concern the Church around the world should be of interest to the Body of Christ. I was reading a report about a Catholic Church that was denied the renewal of a building permit to finish construction on their Church in a Russian city. I immediately thought: "Uh oh, Orthodox and Roman Catholics are at odds." I assumed the Orthodox just didn't want the influence of the Western Church in their backyard.
As I continued reading, I realized that this wasn't about variants of faith. This was about politics vs. religion. The permit was denied by Russian authorities whose rationale for denial were based on the lie that construction on the project had never begun.
Archbishop Pezzi, of the Diocese of the Mother of God in Moscow, called it "deliberate discrimination against the Catholic population of Pskov." There are approximately 200,000 residents of this city and only one Catholic Church to serve them -- one Catholic Church that has been under construction since the year 2000, according to the Archbishop.
Little by little, the Catholics of the city of Pskov scrimped and saved to build a portion of the Church facility over the last ten years. In the area they have available to them, they help the poor, homeless and disabled. They worship and they pray in what is only a partial structure.
According to a story in May 2011 in The Telegraph, Russia is being overrun by religious sects. The way the story describes them, they are more like cults -- people in search of a religious fulfillment, but often misled by the bad Theology of a charismatic leader. Russia is a country that has struggled to meld its authoritative style of government with the new found freedoms of a collapsed Soviet Union. A deprived people have been given the opportunity to fill the void of left by forced atheism in their lives.
With potential religious anarchy in their midst, one would think that the rigid Russians would be looking to promote a more organized, structured religion to feed their people. Unless, the undercurrent of atheism is being fed by the extremes of cult-like attitudes. Perhaps the only way to save the state is to stamp out the idea of religion all over again?
Archbishop Pezzi seems to be implying just that in suggesting this is discrimination. It appears that old Soviet tactics may be rearing their ugly heads again. God is a danger to ultimate human control of the populous. Control means order -- and wiping away the fringe that is out of control means throwing out the baby with the bathwater. We've seen it before in the Revolution that overthrew the Czar.
This should be watched with great anticipation. The Archbishop may be facing some stiff opposition. These officials, although they may appear to only be denying a permit, may hold a position that wishes to deny more than a legal freedom. And, protesting in Russia is no joke. Archbishop Pezzi is a courageous man.