Franciscan Bishop: we did not and do not intend to "catholicize Russia";

Franciscan Bishop: we did not and do not intend to "catholicize Russia";
The world's only Russian Catholic Bishop, Nikolai Dubinin, in an exclusive interview with RIA Novosti, spoke about why Pope Francis entrusted him with such a responsible Ministry in Russia, what he thinks about the previous accusations of proselytism by Catholics and how their relations with the Orthodox are developing today, as well as what the main challenges facing the Catholic Church are. The Franciscan priest, originally from Novoshakhtinsk, Rostov region, was appointed auxiliary Bishop to the Archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow at the end of July. the ordination of father Nicholas (his ordination to the episcopate) will take place in Moscow on October 4.- Bishop Nicholas, you have become the first Russian Catholic Bishop of Russia. Why have only foreigners served in this rank so far, and what are the reasons for the changes?- The fact that until now the Catholic Church in Russia had only foreign bishops is not entirely true, since in pre – revolutionary history and during the persecution of the Catholic Church in the XX century, among the bishops were natives of Russia. They were not Russian – the national composition of the then Catholic Church is clear. But they were natives of Russia. So I am not the first Russian, but in the recent history of The Catholic Church in Russia – Yes. The modern history of our Church in Russia begins in 1991. It was then that the structures of The Catholic Church were revived in our country. By that time, as a result of the persecution of the Soviet period, it was virtually destroyed. And priests from different countries came to help the faithful.The first two bishops who were put in charge of our resurgent Church in 1991 were natives of the former Soviet republics. It took almost 30 years for the native Russians in our local Church to grow up with people who took the path of priestly service, among whom it would be possible to elect a local Bishop. - Still, why did the choice fall on you? What are your feelings?"I don't know. I was invited to The Apostolic Nunciature and told that Pope Francis considered me fit to entrust this Ministry. And they asked me to think, pray, and answer if I accept this service. The feelings I feel are first of all gratitude to God for the gift of vocation, gratitude to the Church and its head, Pope Francis, for the trust placed in me, as well as trust in God in this new and responsible Ministry. - And how did you come to Catholicism, because for the indigenous population of Russia, Orthodoxy is more traditional? Why did you join the Franciscan order?- I come from a mixed family in the religious sense, on my father's side in my family Orthodox, on my mother's side – Catholics. This is why my life path is determined, in particular, by this, including the Catholic Church. As for the Franciscan order, in General, the vocation of a person is a story that remains, in a sense, a secret for the person himself. In the gospel, Jesus says: "You didn't choose me, I chose you." Therefore, choosing our life, religious path, we respond to the call that the Lord gives. I felt that my place, my charisma, my vocation was in the Franciscan order, and time shows that I was not mistaken.- What do you consider necessary to do in your new position in the first place, and what are the main tasks facing you? What will be your responsibilities?- I am an auxiliary Bishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese based in Moscow. Therefore, my main task, as it is written in the papal bull (it will be announced on Sunday, just before my ordination), is to help the Archbishop in the management of our large Archdiocese. It is really large in territory – this is the entire North of the European part of Russia, more than a hundred parishes. I will be entrusted with the North-Western region and the Kaliningrad region for constant care and pastoral service.In all that is necessary for the good of our diocese, I will help the ruling Bishop.- In your opinion, what are the main problems facing the Catholic community in Russia today?- I don't think we should talk about any great problems of the Catholic Church, because we try to live in the Evangelical way, and not in the way of problems, struggles and something like that. Therefore, I would rather talk about challenges for our Church.I can't name any other great problems and please you with some sensation… The task of Christianity at any time is the sanctification of society, and we continue this mission, it always remains the main task for us. Therefore, the Challenge for the Catholic Church in Russia is to make a positive and constructive contribution to society as a relatively small community and to be an integral part of it. "Let us make haste to do good" is my Episcopal motto, and I consider this a real call for our Church. - And how acute is the issue of revising centuries-old norms and traditional values for the Roman Catholic Church today? Is there a lot of pressure on the Church by the authorities and society in this matter? And is it possible to recognize same-sex marriage, female priesthood, surrogacy, IVF, and other biotechnologies?- In our country, the teaching of the Church is determined by the College of bishops and approved by the Pope. Some updating and revision of the current norms is carried out almost constantly, but not at the level of individual dioceses. And all that can be revised is what is established by men, but not what is established by God.- Vladyka, have the reasons for the accusations of proselytism that were once made against the Catholic Church gone into the past?- I believe that there were no special grounds for accusing Catholics of proselytizing in Russia during the difficult period of the 90s of the last century. Now, I think, no one has any serious grounds for such accusations either. It is necessary to understand correctly what "proselytism" is: unrighteous attraction, luring believers – by deception, for money, and so on. There has never been anything like this in our Church, and I hope there will never be. We had no intention of "catholicizing Russia". Since the announcement of my appointment, I have already given a number of interviews, and all the time I say and repeat what is the principle of Church life and the mission of the Church in General: it is open to all people. If a person comes, if he seeks God, the truth – if he finds them in our Church, we never close the door from anyone. - In General, how do you assess the level of dialogue between the Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches today? What are the priority projects for cooperation?- This is a very diverse and multi – level issue-what can we call a dialogue between Churches? A meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill, or a mutual visit of some high official delegations, or state relations between Russia and the Vatican, or a dialogue between hierarchs here on the spot, at the level of bishops, priests, and laity? In other words, the question of what this dialogue looks like is a bottomless sea, and I can't evaluate it.There are always some stereotypes, some misunderstandings... There are differences that can always be put somewhere at the forefront and show some, rather than reasons, but reasons for disagreements, conflicts, but it seems to me that there is nothing insurmountable now. And there are no acute conflicts or confrontations, thank God, either.
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