Although the Catholic Church in Russia is in the minority, its prestige in society is noticeably increasing. However, it still needs help from abroad to care for its believers, who are often scattered across the country. The East Siberian diocese of St. Joseph alone, with its base in Irkutsk, is larger than the USA with an area spread over nearly 10 million square kilometres. ACN’s commitment to the Church in Russia is highly diverse – for more than 25 years, one focus has been promoting dialogue and cooperation between the Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches.
Cooperation between the Catholic and Russian Orthodox Churches was further intensified in 2018. For example, an ecumenical working group established in 2016 as a result of the historic meeting between Pope Francis and Patriarch Kirill oversaw the practical implementation of points defined by the two church leaders in their declaration.
These include assisting needy Christians in the Middle East. Against this background, Cardinal Kurt Koch and Metropolitan Hilarion met in Vienna on 12 February 2018 for a joint symposium on the topic of persecuted Christians in the Middle East. In cooperation with the Moscow Patriarchate, ACN presented a brochure on the destruction of churches in Syria.
» We are proud of our cooperation with the Russian Orthodox Church. «
A visible sign of the growing acceptance of the Catholic Church in Russia in 2018 was the celebration of the 25th anniversary of the reopening of the only Catholic seminary in Russia. Since its foundation, the seminary based in Saint Petersburg has developed into a lively centre of Catholic life, where not only ecumenical but also numerous cultural events take place.
International Ecumenical Conference on Addiction
With ACN’s help, the International Ecumenical Conference on Addiction was held in St Petersburg for the second time in October 2018. One the objectives formulated by participants is sensitising Catholic and Orthodox priests to the special needs of addicts in pastoral work and establishing support systems for addicts as an integral part of training at seminaries.