I suspect that folks my age and older will likely find this news item from the RussianInterfax news agency rather remarkable:
Moscow, February 3, Interfax – The Russian Orthodox Church will appoint about 400 priests for service as armed forces chaplains in fulfillment of a directive of the chief of the General Staff late last year that instituted chaplaincy positions in the military, the website of Patriarch Kirill cited the Primate as saying.There is a plan to set up centers to provide clergy with three-month training for chaplaincy service, the Patriarch told a Bishops’ Meeting in Moscow.The clergy to be sent to the military will include both clerics with experience of service in the armed forces and young priests who are fit to serve in field conditions.Under a directive by the chief of the General Staff effective from December 1, 2009, the commander of an armed forces unit is to have a civilian aide who is a cleric and ministers to religious servicemen.Russian military units abroad have become the first to acquire chaplains – 13 priests went to serve there in December.The command of the North Caucasus Military District had a military clergy department set up in October 2009. Patriarch Kirill asked the bishops of the Southern Federal District to name candidates to fill 30 chaplaincy positions in the district’s military units.The Armed Forces Sociological Center says more than 70% of Russia’s military personnel consider themselves religious. About 80% of them identify themselves as Orthodox Christians, about 13% as Muslims, about 3% as Buddhists, and 4% as followers of other faiths. There are 530 churches on the premises of military units.
“I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”
I interpret the “conversion of Russia” to mean a conversion that entails a full reunion with the Catholic Church. And in addition to the above, stories like this and this give me a great deal of hope that I will live to see that blessed day.