Action Alert!

understanding Moscow's fears of "proselytism"

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles ) | Oct 04, 2005

When the Russian Orthodox hierarchy complains about Catholic "proselytism" in traditionally Orthodox lands-- and the Moscow Patriarchate makes that complaint all too frequently-- most Western observers have trouble understanding. How could the Orthodox be so blatant in their attempts to protect their own turf, to keep out the competition, to suppress religious freedom?

Lawrence Uzzell, a keen observer who has spent years in Moscow, offers an explanation in his International Religious Freedom Watch. Uzzell does not excuse the Orthodox leadership for taking this approach; on the contrary, he says forthrightly that it is repressive. But he does help a Western reader to understand why the Moscow Patriarchate uses that rhetoric, and why many other Russians find it persuasive.

Definitely worth reading.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: Gil125 - Oct. 04, 2005 5:57 PM ET USA

    It definitely was worth reading, Diogenes. And since I was reading down OTR, I read the comments on the USCCB meeting in WA first and therefore was struck by this sentence in the introduction to the Uzzel piece: "We miss the opportunity to serve as a 'reality check' for religious leaders, who are just as tempted as anyone else to put too much faith in their own press releases." It's not only Protestants who put too much faith in their own press releases.