Sunday, June 28, 2020

Spread of Roman Catholicism in Belarus Threatens Russia, Trofimov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 25 – Many Russians to this day believe that Aleksandr Nevsky was right to make an alliance with the Mongols because he was fighting against not only the Teutonic knights but also Roman Catholic missionaries who wanted to convert Russians from Orthodoxy and put them under the control of the pope.

            Now, a Russian theologian of Ukrainian origin is making a similar argument about why Moscow must adopt a more interventionist approach to Belarus by arguing that the Vatican is now working alongside the secular Western powers in Russia’s western neighbor and that this constitutes a dangerous threat to Russian national interests.

            But Oleg Trofimov, a Russian Orthodox theologian and specialist on religions, does not stop there: He urges Minsk and Moscow to adopt the same approach to Roman Catholicism that the Russian powers that be have taken with respect to Jehovah’s Witnesses and treat it as the “extremist” group he says it is (

            According to Trofimov, the Vatican is again seeking to expand its influence eastward just as it did under the protection of the Nazis after Germany invaded the Soviet Union and after the USSR collapsed in 1991.  In recent years, he says, “the Vatican has devoted all efforts to again occupy its former positions” in Belarus.

            Officially, only about 14 percent of Belarusians are Catholics, but “some experts” say there are many more and that in certain important spheres of national life, they form as much as a third. They played a key role in the exploitation of the Kuropaty mass graves to whip up anti-Russian sentiment among Belarusians.

            Moreover and more dangerously, the Catholic church in Belarus has not focused on pastoral work but rather on creating the conditions for “a state coup” so as to “’cleanse’ the people” as he claims “the Catholics did in my Ukraine, by civil war and poverty and thus convert the country into an American colony.”

            To that end, Trofimov continues, it has done far more than “distort” the history of the Kuropaty mass graves; it has developed “Maidan technologies,” including media attacks, development of the opposition and its media, “zombifying” its parishioners “with the help of hypnosis,” and even “spying” on behalf of the West.

            The Russian Orthodox Church must expose this criminal activity, and the two governments must recognize that the Roman Catholics are an extremist organization like the Jehovah’s Witnesses and take similar steps against what he calls the Vatican’s “anti-state” actions in Belarus and elsewhere.

            Two things about Trofimov’s article make it important. On the one hand, he is providing another ideologically powerful basis for Russian intervention. And on the other, his recommendations show that the failure of many governments to come to the full-throated defense of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is opening the way to attacks on other faiths.

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