The Catholic Thing
Letter from Moscow Print E-mail
By Austin Ruse   
Friday, 26 July 2013

I was telling a Latvian lady a short while ago about my trip to Moscow; that I was meeting with the Russian government to thank them for their strong pro-family position at the United Nations. She shook an ancient bony finger at me and said, You cannot trust them. If they are for you, they are for you for other reasons. They are liars!

After I attneded a Russian sponsored conference in Rhodes last years, a friend and colleague separated from me for many months believing I had fallen in with KGB oligarchs and gangsters.

This feeling runs the other way, too. In Moscow, government and non-government people have told me that America wants to undermine the values and morals of the Russian people. They point to a speech, which likely was never given, by CIA director Allen Dulles who is supposed to have suggested undermining Russian morals and turning their women into prostitutes. It’s mentioned here, but as apocryphal.  

They also quoted something supposedly said by Zbigniew Brzezinski, whom they mistakenly think was in the Reagan administration, that America needs to undermine the only institution left in Russia: the Orthodox Church. 

It is hard to argue with them, though not on these errors. After all, Russia and much of the world is awash in American-made filth, pornography mostly. When I meet new diplomats at the United Nations, they expect to encounter pimps, prostitutes, and pornographers. They're shocked to meet people who pray. 

America is now leading an initiative to spread the homosexual agenda globally. We are appointing openly gay ambassadors among traditional peoples. The Dominicans are up in arms about this. And it’s a U.S. foreign policy priority to advance the gay agenda whenever possible. We hold gay parties at embassies, even in places, like Pakistan, where it offends. 

But Russia is under the microscope of human rights and homosexual activists for recent laws meant to curb the homosexual advance. The Russian Duma (parliament) almost unanimously passed a law banning homosexual propaganda aimed at school children and public manifestations like parades. 

Gay playwright Harvey Fierstein very nearly had an aneurism in the New York Times this week. He made several utterly false claims about the law such as that parents who speak positively of homosexuals to their children can have them removed. And they can be jailed. He said the new law would allow security forces to identify and jail tourists suspected of being gay. All of this is false and the Times ought to be ashamed for publishing it. 

Even conservatives are getting into the act. Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller website ran a column last week calling homosexuals to battle in Russia. 

I was in Russia this week to thank its government for its strong position on these issues at the United Nations, and to let them know American conservatives favor the recent homosexual law. 

I was curious about the claims by Fierstein and the gay press that there is “a war on homosexuals.” Quite by accident I discovered otherwise. 

I stayed at the Hotel Metropol, one of the oldest and most prestigious hotels in Moscow. Outside the hotel Monday morning I observed a post-operative transsexual man, now “woman,” casually strolling down the street in black Capri pants and a tight sweater, open to expose new breasts. 

          The Kremlin and St. Basil’s

No one noticed or even looked at him. And he did not seem concerned with being spotted and harassed, let alone arrested by state security forces. 

The next night, I walked near the Bolshoi and spotted three hairy men in dresses. Again, no one noticed or arrested them. 

Curious, I went online and Googled “Gay Moscow.” Rather than being cowed into silence or otherwise driven back into the closest, gay Moscow is out and proud. A few dozen websites advertising restaurants, bars, even bathhouses, were there for Harvey Fierstein's enjoyment.  

We hear many things about Russia these days:  corruption, crackdown, authoritarianism – from Human Rights Watch, ACLU, Amnesty International. And from conservative folks, too. But, I wonder if things are so clear-cut as we are led to believe. 

Claims about a Russian war on gays is false. I wonder what else is false. What I know is a religious revival is going on in Russia. And the Orthodox Church is leading it.

Russian Railways czar Vladimir Yakunin, whom I met with, recently engineered a visit to Russia of the True Cross of St Andrew.   Five-hour lines in the rain awaited anyone wanting to venerate it. Happily, Yakunin arranged for me to cut the line. 

I met also with young tech billionaire Konstantin Malofeev whose office is festooned with religious icons. He is working to bring Russian Orthodox and U.S. Christians closer together. 

Malofeev and many other Russians see themselves as a Christian nation sent to help other Christians around the world. For them, at least, that’s why they support the Assad regime; he’s better for Syria’s Orthodox Christians. 

He wonders if some sort of grand global alliance between the Orthodox and Catholics can be achieved and what effect that might have on the global culture war advanced by the sexual left. I wonder, too. 

The global conversation is religious. Seculars may dominate the West. But beyond, they are not really in the picture, except insofar as they can impose their ideology through international institutions and development assistance.

Our voices could be much more powerful if we make common cause with those who many seem to have a vested interest in silencing.

We should take the lead from Pope Francis. In the early days of his papacy, he received Metropolitan Hilarion, external relations director for the Russian Church. Hilarion gave Francis a famous and powerful icon, important to the Orthodox, but to Russians in general: Our Lady of Kazan. Francis gave it to Benedict when they met for the first time after his election. 

Russia is rightly criticized for some of its acts, but it may also be under attack for reasons we cannot wholly see. 

Austin Ruse is the President of the New York and Washington, D.C.-based Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), a research institute that focuses exclusively on international social policy. The opinions expressed here are Mr. Ruse’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the policies or positions of C-FAM.
The Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

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Comments (16)Add Comment
written by avery, July 26, 2013
This is food for thought. So many of us grew up just suspicious of everything the USSR did, that its been hard to divorce that from today's Russia. But perhaps we Roman Catholics can understand and reach beyond that justified Cold War suspicion, especially in areas of common importance concerning Apostolic Christianity.

I certainly found the actions of Pussy Riot in the Orthodox Cathedral of Christ the Saviour offensive and bordering on the blasphemous. Just as I found the acts of the Rainbow Sasher and his accomplice at a June 16th, 2013 Mass in Chicago, also "real sacrilege" as Edward Peters, JD, JCD, Ref. Sig. Ap. has called it.

We need to get over being afraid that someone like Harvey F is going to call us names in the NYT. He'll do it anyway. TIme for all Christians who defend the Apostolic faith to transcend Cold War fears and not back down from living the truth.
written by Jack,CT, July 26, 2013
I hope you are totally correct Mr Ruse and it
is not all well a "Ruse"....LOL
written by Manfred, July 26, 2013
"When I meet new diplomats at the United Nations, they expect to encounter pimps, prostitutes and pornographers".
Why would they not expect this? Two mayoral candidates in NYC are a woman "married" to another woman, a pervert who exposes himself on the internet, and a candidate for City controller who resigned in disgrace as the Governor of New York because of his dalliances with prostitutes. These comprise the City's "elite".
written by Dennis Larkin, July 26, 2013
The Russians know what it is to see the family disintegrated by government. I think their actions are genuine.
written by Rich in MN, July 26, 2013
Those like myself (and many of you) who maintain that same-sex attraction is a cross and not a trophy, and who support marriage as one man and one woman, have been effectively demonized in the court of public opinion. The other side (which includes my own daughter) is no more open to hearing our arguments as we would be open to hearing the arguments of skinhead neo-Nazis regarding race issues. We must all pray for discernment and pray for wisdom and pray for love. Regarding Austin Ruse's column, I would just like to quote someone that I hold in infinitely high regard: "He who is not against us is for us" (Luke 9:50). And, in our efforts to break through the ideological barriers erected by our accusers, we must be wise (Greek: phronimos) as serpents and innocent (Greek: akeraios) as doves (Matt 10:16). I saw a guy on TV yesterday wearing this white zucchetto. He was down in Rio de Janeiro talking to a group from an area known for its vicious drug violence and vice. He told the audience that he loved them all. I am no 'reader of souls,' but I sense that he truly meant it. He impresses me as someone we might want to hold up as a model for our own attitude and approach in a battle where the objective is to make all people allies in the Truth.
written by Athanasius, July 26, 2013
Wouldn't it be a kicker if Russia turns out to be a stronger Christian nation than the United States? Our Lord does work in strange ways.

On a side note, today is the feast day of St. Anne and St. Joachim, the parents of Our Blessed Mother Mary. My parish growing up had French roots, and so it had special devotions to St. Anne. I have continued to pray to St. Anne daily. Let us all take a moment to ask her powerful intercession for our beloved America and also for Russia, that the people of both nations may come to know the truth of Christ and order their lives accordingly.
written by Anca-Maria Cernea, July 26, 2013
The Latvian lady was absolutely right.
I can't believe I'm reading a praise of the Putin regime on this site, by Mr. Austin Ruse, who has done so much to defend Christian and family values so far.

We need to recall some basic facts.
Czar Putin comes from KGB and is the heir of the Soviet leaders. He is not at all ashamed by his predecessors, quite the opposite, he is proud of them and overtly nostalgic of the USSR; it's enough to take a look at Stalin's portraits displayed in Russia on May 9th.
On the other hand, Putin's regime has committed some serious crimes of its own. For instance, the military invasion of Georgia, war crimes in Chechnia. The last were documented, among others, by the brave Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaia, who was later herself brutaly killed, as were killed other independent Russian journalists and people who were opposing the Russian regime - let's just mention Alexander Litvinenko. We owe this heroic men and women at least some interest in the message they were trying to give the world, after all, they died for it! Their message, literally sealed with blood, was definitely not: "Putin has converted to Christianity!".

The current-day Russian leaders descend directly from the KGB and the Soviet Communist Party elite. There was never a Nuremberg trial of the Soviet past.

Another basic fact that needs to be reminded is that the USSR was the Evil Empire who killed milions of Christians and did everything to destroy Christianity in the part of the world it occupied.
Therefore, keeping in mind that there is perfect continuity in mentality, methods, even personnel, between the the USSR and the current-day Russian regime, why should we believe they suddenly changed? Shouldn't this supposed "change" be proven somehow? Can anyone imagine Germany after WW2 being led by the same guys from NSDAP and Gestapo, who would pretend they suddenly converted to Christianity and are now committed to its defence worldwide?
Contrary to the impression that may be left by a few days of visiting Russia's monasteries, Russian society is, in reality, infinitely more decadent and rotten than any Western society. Just look at the numbers of abortions, divorces, alcohol and drug addiction, HIV infection and other STD, etc. Russia is hardly an example for others as far as Christian morality is concerned.

All of the claims that Western "progressive" decadents think nowadays they are the first to formulate, have already been legalized by Lenin: abortion, homosexuality, destruction of the "burgeois" family, instant divorce, general promiscuity. Stalin reversed some of Lenin's sexual revolution in Russia, but the Comintern still supported it to be used in the West / Georg Lucacs, Frankfurt School, Antonio Gramsci. The USSR inspired and encouraged every possible decadent movement outside of its territory, in order to undermine the Free World's moral structure. Remember that the first gay rights NGO in human history was composed more than 90% of members of the American Communist Party. After all, cultural marxism is still marxism. Anyone who has studied a little bit of marxist "dialectics" should understand that this intrinsically mendacious ideology can take many shapes in order to achieve its goal -which is the destruction of Judeo-Christian Civilization.

There is another important thing about the Russian regime that is hardly ever perceived in the West. Russian leaders can make long term plans, they don't have to worry about losing elections. Their predecessors invested in cultural subversion of their adversaries, and they are now taking profit of the fruitful results, many dacades later. They can now assume the role of "defenders of morality and common sense".
It's a big mistake to attribute Russian leaders the Western way of thinking, which is based on a binary logic: true/false, black/white, left/right, good/evil. In Russia, since the time of the Czar, his secret police, Ochrana, a precursor of KGB, used to create opposition movements, in order to better repress them. They controlled the provocations, they controlled the police repression. It works the same way today. This gives Russian leaders more and more power on their own population (see the case of Moscow appartment bombings and its effects) and makes them a lot more dangerous for their eternal ennemy, the West (it doesn't matter that the West thinks the Cold War is over, the Russian leaders have never given up the plan to win it - they say it loud, but nobody in the West pays attention).

Alexander Dugin, the most influential ideologue of the current-day Russian regime, has written openly about Russia's mission to destroy the Western world, specially America, the Catholic Church and individual freedom. Dugin has replaced the old form of marxism, which is compromised in Russia, with a new collectivist ideology to justify Russian aggressive hatred for the West, a combination of bolshevism, nazism and gnostic-pagan elements. "Moral indignation" is part of it, it gives the Russian leaders a position of (apparent) moral superiority over the "decadent West".
Dugin has recommended as strategy against the West THE USE OF BOTH THE LEFT AND THE RIGHT, subversion and outraged reaction. And in Eastern Europe it's easy to track the link to Moscow of both the New Left (promoting the cultural revolution agenda) and the New Right (supposedly defending traditional values, in fact using fascist forms, that may actually compromise those values).

Proclaiming Putin as the defender of Christianity is a deadly illusion.
In our part of the world we describe this situation as "running away from the devil just to walk into his father".

written by Seanachie, July 26, 2013
Austin...beware of being the victim and re-broadcaster of skillful Russian disinformation.
written by Rich in MN, July 26, 2013

Thank you for your clear warning regarding blindly trusting those who, in the past, have proven themselves more wolf than sheep. This may seem too tangential to the discussion but there is a type of “argument from silence” offered by Blessed John Paul II to support of your skepticism. With the upcoming canonization of John XXIII and John Paul II, the whole question of JPII’s response to the priestly sex abuse scandal has become a topic of discussion again. Questions such as, Why did JPII trust Fr. Marcial Maciel to a fault? and Why did JPII not grant American bishops the authority to laicize sexually abusive priests when they requested it years before the major scandals broke in 2002?
George Weigel reported a discussion he had with an insider to Bishop Karol Wojtyla (the insider’s name escapes me right now) regarding the Church’s relationship with the Polish Communist Government. In a chillingly direct statement, the insider confided, “You don’t understand. It was us and them – all the time.” Presumably, Karol Wojtyla would have faced every sort of deception, every kind of manipulation and game, every type of persecution that we can imagine – and then some, and it never, ever stopped. The priests forged in that crucible must have been men of immense personal strength, heroic courage and God-infused virtue to withstand the threats and challenges they faced every single day. And, whenever an accusation was leveled against one of these priests (which I would guess happened regularly), would not Karol Wojtyla have every reason to be skeptical of the accuser and not rush to judgment on the priest? Unfortunately, skills learned in one type of war do not necessarily translate well into another type of war (despite the fact that our ultimate enemy is the same).
Thank you again for your warning.
written by Randall, July 26, 2013
I agree with the commenters who warn of trusting the Russian regime. I would like to have heard more from Mr. Ruse about the situation 'on the ground' in Russia - that is, what is the situation with the average Russian?

I know that Russia is in a demographic death spiral because of low birth rates, high abortion rates, alcohol and drug addiction and high rates of suicide. Mr. Ruse mentions a religious revival in Russia. If there truly is one, I wonder if it's some sort of reaction of the general decadence of the Russian culture.

Regarding homosexuality, it's generally frowned upon in Slavic cultures. I've lived in Poland off and on for the past 16 years and I can imagine that it would be very uncomfortable to be openly gay in nearly all of Poland (Warsaw, the capitol, might be the exception). But I've also witnessed a general degradation of Polish culture too and homosexuality is slowly becoming more acceptable here.

I would be interested to know more how the 'Russian-in-the-street' regards homosexuality.
written by Anca-Maria Cernea, July 26, 2013
Thank you, Rich.
There is a wise Russian saying that applies well here:
"Trust, but check!"
What I said above was not about my feelings or my suspicions. I don't even ask you to trust me. Just check the facts I mentioned. This thing is too serious to be judged with the heart.

"...for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light" (St. Luke 16>8)
written by Anca-Maria Cernea, July 27, 2013
I would like to propose you some specific research topics.
- RT, formerly "Russia Today", is the Russian government TV channel, broadcasting in English for the US. Check whether this information is true or false.
- Then go to RT's website and see the kind of coverage it gave to the Occupy Wall Street protests. Decide whether it was minimal/extensive, and decide weather it was negative/neutral/positive.
- Then go to OWS web pages, resp. to LGBT rights pages, and see how this two groups relate to each other. Decide whether there is between them mutual hostility, indifference, or they speak like they had a common cause.
- If you come to the conclusion that the RT (the Russian government) supported the OWS, and the OWS and LGBT work together in harmony, than you can ask yourselves why the Christian-conservative Putin administration is doing this, and how much you can rely on such an ally to defend family values in America and worldwide.
written by Sue, July 27, 2013
Anca-Maria you are 100 percent sharp in your observations about the faked death of Soviet Communism so that it would avoid a Nuremberg beatback of its KGB accomplices. There was a Soviet officer defector in the 1960s by the name of Anatoly Golitsyn who shared the prediction that the Soviet Union *would* do what it in fact did (implode) IN ORDER that its KGB power structure could go underground and have even more power. Vladimir Bukovsky, who smuggled key papers out of the temporarily opened Soviet Archives in the 90s, also validates the thesis that the Soviet weeds were not pulled up by the roots: "Having failed to finish off conclusively the communist system, we are now in danger of integrating the resulting monster into our world. It may not be called communism anymore, but it retained many of its dangerous characteristics... Until the Nuremberg-style tribunal passes its judgement on all the crimes committed by communism, it is not dead and the war is not over"

Alexander Dugin, the Russian manipulator referred to in a comment above, has been bested in a debate by the Catholic intellectual Olavo de Carvalho, of the Inter-American Institute. I highly recommend reading this important debate and their website. Among other things, the Islamic and globalist connections come into focus- de Carvalho posits that the Russians, the globalists (read plutocrat population controllers) and the Islamists form a three-legged stool of malignant cooperation.

But to those who counter that the US is no paragon of behavior, that is the point - the barbarians (read the three-legged stool) are inside the gates. Keep your eyes open!

Rich, your insights about JPII and what he was up against are also very appreciated.
written by Anca-Maria Cernea, July 28, 2013
Thank you, Sue.
Prof. Olavo de Carvalho is the greatest mind of our time! Marxists, progressives and revolutionists of all kinds fear him like holy water. He knocked Dugin out spectacularly in that debate. It is a very important text to read, very instructive.
written by Anca-Maria Cernea, July 28, 2013
Prof. Olavo has written and lectured a lot about Fatima.
He stresses that we are still living in the Fatima prophecy. Our Lady never mentioned "The Soviet Union". She mentioned "Russia". She said that "Russia's errors" would spread throughout the world. It's far from being over.
written by Fr. Constantine J. Simones, August 10, 2013
As a Greek Orthodox priest who has served Christ's Holy Church for 54 years, I find it offensive that Roman Catholics in America have such a distorted understanding of Holy Orthodoxy and especially of the Russian Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church of Russia today is having a magnificent spiritual revival that is not being reported by the American press. I agree with Athanasius that Russia today is a more Christian country than America and it is not a kicker. +Fr. Constantine J. Simones

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