Moscow, Catholic bishop Nikolai Dubinin consecrated
by Vladimir Rozanskij

He is the first bishop of Russian ethnicity of the Latin rite in the history of the Catholic Church. The new pastor will reside in St. Petersburg, for the care of the north-west and west of the Archdiocese. The Catholic bishops of Russia were present at the celebration. Absent Msgr. Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, Archbishop of Minsk, "persona non grata" in Lukashenko's Belarus, and in Putin's Russia. No proselytism.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - On Sunday 4 October, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the auxiliary Catholic bishop of Moscow, Monsignor Nikolaj Dubinin, was consecrated. The rite took place in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. The new bishop, the first of the Russian ethnicity of the Latin rite in the history of the Catholic Church, received the title of the ancient Diocese of the Waters of Bizacena.

The consecration ceremony was presided over by the Archbishop of the Mother of God in Moscow, the Italian Msgr. Paolo Pezzi, who concelebrated together with the bishop of the Transfiguration in Novosibirsk, the Russian-German Msgr. Josif Werth, and to the bishop of St. Joseph in Irkutsk, the Polish Msgr. Cyril Klimowicz. About 50 priests from the four Russian Catholic dioceses concelebrated, together with several conventual friars, confreres of the new bishop, and other religious.

The new bishop will reside in St. Petersburg, having received from Msgr. Pieces the task of following the north-western and western part of the archdiocese, which includes the "capital of the north" and the surrounding region, including important cities such as Novgorod and Pskov, and also the Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad, the ancient Prussian Könisberg. Msgr. Dubinin also completes the Episcopal Conference of Russian Catholic Bishops, which for the first time met with all five bishops in Moscow, after episcopal consecration.

In his greeting to his new brother bishop, Msgr. Pezzi expressed the hope that "blessing, proclaiming the Gospel, the work of evangelization, the witness of Christ are the main concerns of your new ministry ... we Catholic bishops of the Russian Federation are happy to welcome you to our college, may this communion accompany you in serving the people of God”.

Dubinin's appointment has aroused keen interest in the country’s public opinion. In the days before his episcopal consecration, he gave several interviews to the Russian press. Speaking to Ria Novosti correspondents, the new bishop clarified that "several bishops in pre-revolutionary Russian history were citizens of Russia, even if they were not of Russian ethnicity, but mainly Polish, like the majority of the faithful". The Russian religious renaissance also began in 1991 for Catholics, after the end of the Soviet Union. At that time, only two "facade" churches remained open in Moscow and Leningrad.

The first bishops appointed in 1991 were Soviet citizens: Msgr. Werth, who has held the office of bishop in Novosibirsk ever since, after having been apostolic administrator of all Siberia (even today his diocese is territorially the largest in the world), while the administrator for European Russia was Msgr. Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, today archbishop of Minsk and metropolitan of all Belarus. He should have concelebrated at the consecration of Dubinin, but is currently in exile in Poland and Lithuania, being a "persona non grata" for both Lukashenko's Belarus and Putin's Russia.

The same Msgr. Dubinin explained to journalists that "the challenge of the Catholic Church in Russia is the proclamation to the world of the joy of the Gospel, as Pope Francis proclaims, the joy that the life of faith and its values ​​brings to the life of all people, believers and non-believers… it is the sanctification of society”. The Catholic Church in Russia, despite being a small minority, "makes a positive and creative contribution to the life of society, of which it is an integral part". The motto chosen by Dubinin is "never tire of doing what is good", a phrase that evokes Paul's exhortations to the Thessalonians and which was used as a program by the famous "holy doctor" of Moscow, the Catholic Friedrich Haass, from the early 1800s whose canonisation cause is underway.

Among other things, in these days, the historic buildings of the Haass charitable works, are at the center of a controversy: after being returned to the Catholic Church, following a long legal battle and despite the incessant requests of the faithful, are now be put up for sale by the diocesan curia of Moscow.

The new bishop rejects the accusations of proselytism addressed to Catholics even in past years. He stressed that there has never been an action aimed at snatching faithful from the Orthodox or "Catholicising Russia", even if the Church by its nature "always remains open to all men who seek God, and we do not have the right to close that door”.