School textbook on “Religions in Russia” demonises Catholics
by Maria Anikina
According to experts and leaders of the different communities, the manual contains numerous “errors of concept”, uses “xenophobic terminology” and is of a low “scientific standard”. The text even asks students “what problems has freedom for Catholics to spread their faith caused the country”.

Moscow (AsiaNews) – “What new problems did Russian society face because of Catholic believers have obtained the freedom to extend and strengthen their faith?”. This is just one of the many inexact and partisan questions that are contained in a new junior high textbook entitled “Religions in Russia”.  Written by Andrei Kulakov, the manual was presented a few weeks ago at the International Moscow book fair, the famous Non Fiction. The text in its entirety represents Catholicism as a hostile reality towards Russia’s traditional religion, Orthodoxy.

Publication of this book has provoked discussion in Russian mass-media and spiritual circles; it has caused as well negative reaction. As one of Russian news agency said, “It is characterized by law nihilism, low scientific standards and xenophobe terminology”. Just to give one example of the many factual errors present, it is enough to mention here the photograph of Pope John Paul II on page 108 with the caption “Pope Benedict XVI”.

This edition was discussed widely among the experts. Co-chairmen of Institute for freedom of consciousness S. Mozgovoi blamed that terminological and lexical incorrectness “could lead to the increase of xenophobia, intolerance and pressure in poly-confessional Russian society”. One more serious problem with this textbook is that the critics and corrections made by experts during the preparation of texts were not taken into account by the editorial team. While preparing this book its author Andrei Kulakov and his team appealed to various religious communities to obtain the review to this book. Among others Catholic Church reacted to this appeal. Editorial council of “Russian Catholic encyclopaedia” gave its negative estimation to this book, made the detailed conclusion and described more than 40 serious mistakes made by the author in chapters “Catholicism” and “Catholicism in Russian history” of the textbook”. But in the final edition of the book, none of the corrections were made. “Our only hope now –  says Igor Baranov, Council member – is that people responsible for education of new generation will make right choice between the books which contain trustful, precise and full information on the one hand and forgery – on the other hand”.