Raymond De Souza's news analysis “Vatican Hardball with Orthodox in Russia” (March 3-9) was excellent.

The Holy Father's consistent policy of paying close attention to Orthodox sensibilities has proved fruitless. This is tragic. John Paul II has done everything possible to alleviate Orthodox fears, but to little avail. Moreover, his treatment by the Orthodox has been cool to outright insulting. (e.g., the snub by the Georgian catholicos.) Put simply, most Orthodox “jurisdictions” are not interested in dialogue with the Universal Church.

The establishment of the four dioceses in Russia was long overdue. The Vatican's estimate of 1.3 million baptized Catholics in Russia, as quoted in your article, is short by at least half a million.

One question remains. When will the Holy Father in Rome establish a diocese of Byzantine Catholics in Russia? According to the 2001 Annuario Pontificio, an Apostolic Exarchate was established for Russians of Byzantine Rite in 1917. It is time this ecclesiastical jurisdiction was reconstituted.


Spokane, Washington