A Short History of the Russian
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
Survey (7th Edition)