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Russian Greek-Catholic Church

A Short History of the Russian Greek-Catholic Church

by Ronald Roberson, CSP

From the early 19th century until 1905, Greek Catholicism was illegal in the Russian Empire.  But, after Tsar Nicholas II issued his edict of religious toleration, a few small communities of Greek Catholics were formed. In 1917, an Apostolic Exarchate was established for them.  But, the group was annihilated soon after the Bolshevik Revolution.  A second Apostolic Exarchate was set up for the few Russian Byzantine Catholic refugees in China in 1928, based in Harbin [see Orthodox Church of China, III.B.4].  It has since disappeared.  A Russian College, the "Russicum," was founded in Rome in 1929 under Jesuit supervision to train clergy to work with Russian emigres and in Russia itself.

The Apostolic Exarchates in Russia and China are still officially extant, but as of 2008, neither of them had been reconstituted in spite of the re-emergence of a handful of communities in Russia. In 2004, Pope John Paul II nominated Bishop Joseph Werth of the Latin Diocese of the Transfiguration in Novosibirsk as Ordinary bishop for Catholics of the Byzantine rite in Russia, but the Apostolic Exarchate has no other structures. There are now five parishes registered in Siberia, and in Moscow there are two parishes and one pastoral center that are not registered with the authorities. There is also one non-registered community in Obninsk and a community in Saint Petersburg.

For many decades, Russian Cathlics were limited to a scattered presence in the diaspora. There are four Russian Byzantine Catholic worshiping communities in the United States, two each in Argentina, France, and Germany, and one each in Australia, Brazil, and Italy. All of them fall under the jurisdiction of the local Latin bishops.

from The Eastern Christian Churches

A Brief Survey (7th Edition)

Edizioni Orientalia Christiana