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The Russian Greek Catholic Church (Russian: Российская греко-католическая церковь, Rossiyskaya greko-katolicheskaya tserkov) is a Byzantine Rite church sui juris in full union with the Catholic Church. Historically it represents the first reunion of the Russian Orthodox Church with the Roman Catholic Church after the Russian Orthodox Church went in schism. It is now in full communion with and subject to the authority of the Pope as defined by Eastern canon law. Russian Catholics historically have their own episcopal hierarchy, however the office is current vacant; their few parishes are served by priests ordained in other Byzantine Catholic Churches, former Orthodox priests, and Roman Catholic priests with biritual faculties.


Byzantine-rite Catholicism was illegal in the Tsarist Russian empire through the 1800s and until 1905, when Tsar Nicholas II granted religious tolerance. Thereafter, communities of Greek Catholics emerged and became organized.[1] Old Believers were prominent in the early years of the movement. In 1917, Metropolitan Andrei Sheptytsky appointed the first Apostolic Exarchate for Russian Catholics with Most Reverend Leonid Feodorov, formerly a Russian Orthodox seminarian, as Exarch. However, the October Revolution soon followed, dispersing Russian-Rite Catholics into the Siberian prison camps and the centers of the Russian diaspora throughout the world. In the spring of 1923, Exarch Leonid Feodorov was prosecuted for counterrevolution by Nikolai Krylenko and sentenced to ten years in the Soviet concentration camp at Solovki. Released in 1932, he died three years later. He was beatified in 2001 by Pope John Paul II.

In 1928, a second Apostolic Exarchate was set up, for the Russian Catholics in China, based in Harbin.


In Russia, it is purported that after the gradual development of the East-West Schism, a tiny group of Russian families maintained themselves as “Old Catholics,” (rus: старокатолики (starokatoliki)), a name which should not be confused with the Döllingerite Old Catholic Churches of Europe and the U.S., which formally split with the Roman Catholic Church in the wake of the reforms of the First Vatican Council. The status of this group of Russian "Old Catholics", families and groups of individuals to whom the union with Rome remains dear and essential, or its relation to the current Russian Catholic Church is unclear.

The modern Russian Catholic church owes much to the inspiration of poet and philosopher Vladimir Sergeyevich Solovyov (1853–1900), who urged, following Dante, that, just as the world needed the Tsar as a universal monarch, the Church needed the Pope of Rome as a universal ecclesial hierarch. Following Solovyov's teachings a Russian Orthodox priest, Nicholas Tolstoy, entered into full communion with the See of Rome under the Melkite Greek-Catholic, Byzantine Rite Patriarchate of Antioch. Solovyov received sacramental last holy communion from Father Tolstoy believing that in doing so he remained also a faithful member of the Russian Orthodox Church. Orthodox authorities refer to Tolstoy as an apostate and “ex-priest,” but tend to imply that Solovyov still died an Orthodox Christian. Nevertheless, Solovyov never retracted his sentiments in favor of union with the Catholic Church and the See of Rome, and to this day, many Russian Catholics refer to themselves as members of the 'Russian Orthodox Church in communion with Rome'.

Post-Soviet revival[edit]

In the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union, some Russian Catholics began to appear in the open. In a 2005 article, Russian Catholic priest Sergei Golovanov stated that three Russian Catholic priests served on Russian soil celebrating the Russian Byzantine Divine Liturgy. Two of them used the recension of the Russian Liturgy as reformed by Patriarch Nikon of Moscow in 1666. The other priest used the medieval rite of the Old Believers, that is to say, as the Russian liturgical recension existed before Patriarch Nikon's reforms of the Russian Liturgy. All Eastern Catholics in the Russian Federation strictly maintain the use of Church Slavonic, although vernacular Liturgies are more common in the Russian diaspora.


In 2004, Bishop Joseph Werth, the Latin-rite Apostolic Administrator of Siberia, based in Novosibirsk, was appointed by Pope John Paul II as Ordinary for all Eastern Catholics in the Russian Federation. As of 2010, five parishes have been registered with civil authorities in Siberia, while in Moscow two parishes and a pastoral center operate without official registration. There are also communities in Saint Petersburg and Obninsk.[1]

Outside of Russia, there are Russian Catholic parishes and faith communities in San Francisco, New York, El Segundo, Denver, Melbourne, Buenos Aires, Dublin, Meudon, Paris, Chevetogne, Lyon, Berlin, Munich, Rome, Milan, and Singapore. They are all under the jurisdiction of the respective local Latin-rite bishops.

As of 2010, the two Exarchates are still listed in the Annuario Pontificio as extant, but they have not yet been reconstituted, nor have new Russian-Rite bishops been appointed to head them.


  1. ^ a b Ronald Roberson. "Other Eastern Catholic Communities: Russians". Catholic Near East Welfare Association. 

See also[edit]


External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_Greek_Catholic_Church — Please support Wikipedia.
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3 news items

The Daily Breeze
Fri, 29 Aug 2014 19:03:45 -0700

Other fires occurred behind the Slip Stitch yarn store on Main Street, at St. Andrew Russian Greek Catholic Church on Concord Street and in the alley behind Main Street businesses. No one was injured in any of the fires. Nania could face more than 13 ...

CBS Local

Los Angeles Register
Tue, 26 Aug 2014 16:26:15 -0700

On Sunday, a fire was reported around 7:50 a.m. at St. Andrew's Russian Greek-Catholic Church at 538 Concord St. A small prayer group inside said cloth material near the entrance of the church was set on fire. A short while later, less than a half-mile ...
The Daily Breeze
Thu, 28 Aug 2014 18:18:45 -0700

20, Nania allegedly sneaked into the sacristy at St. Andrew Russian Greek Catholic Church at 538 Concord St. and burned some robes, prosecutors said. She is suspected of starting three fires Aug. 24, including one at St. Michael the Archangel Episcopal ...

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