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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Catholics Told to Refuse Converts

The Russian Orthodox Church said Wednesday that the Roman Catholic Church should refuse to take in converts from Orthodoxy and accused the Vatican of "reaping dividends" from Soviet repression.

The statements continued a war of words that began last week when the Vatican raised the status of its four apostolic administrations in Russia to full-fledged dioceses, which the Russian Orthodox Church saw as an aggressive attempt to win converts.

Metropolitan Kirill, the Moscow Patriarchate's chief of foreign relations, said at a news conference that the Catholic Church had taken advantage of the Orthodox Church's weakness following 74 years of Soviet rule and "the genocide of believers." He was referring to the Communist regime's repression of religion.

"Is it admissible to reap dividends from this tragedy?" he said.

The Catholic Church has said its activity in Russia is aimed at meeting the needs of people with Catholic roots. It says it does not actively recruit Orthodox believers or Russian nonbelievers.