money by looting their churches—perhaps the inevitable responsernof a consumerist society. “Ironically,” the dealer whornturned on his colleagues and collaborated with the investigationrnwas a descendant of both Rembrandt and Rubens.rnAfter the break-up of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, Westernrnchurches rushed in, not to help the struggling Orthodox—rnoppressed by decades of atheist communism—to get back onrntheir feet, but to poach on their territory. Rewriting history.rnCatholics are claiming the whole of the Ukraine as their possession,rnand in Bosnia the Catholic bishops appear contentrnwith the massive destruction of Orthodox churches and the expulsionrnof the bishops. On a recent trip, I spent time with twornOrthodox bishops —one in Bijeljina, the other in Trebinje,rnboth of them driven from their sees.rnConfronted with evidence that Orthodox Chrishans are facingrnextinction in Kosovo, the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on hiternationalrnPolicy has released a statement condemning thernOrthodox Serbs for crimes against humanity “chillingly similar”rnto the ethnic cleansings practiced in Bosnia. Almost simultaneously,rnthe Catholic News Service released a statementrncjuohng a Muslim cleric to the effect that the Koran forbids thernkilling of the innocent. In other words, there are bad Muslims,rnwho are terrorists, and good Muslims, who are not, but the onlyrngood Orthodox are dead Orthodox.rnThe American bishops’ lack of sympathy with the Orthodoxrnseems to contradict the Pope’s stated desire to reconcile Eastrnand West. Comparing the Catholic and Orthodox Churchesrnto the two lungs of the body. Pope John Paul II has even encouragedrnuniate churches (i.e., Ea.stern churches in union withrnRome) to omit the disputed filioque in the Nicene Creed. Unfortunatelyrnthe Pope, in making the difficult journey to unification,rnhas made a diplomatic wrong turn by going to Zagreb forrnthe beatification of Cardinal Stepinac. Although Stepinac appearsrnto have acted heroically in resisting communism after thernwar, his initial enthusiasm for the Croatian Nazi government ofrnAnte Pavelic, which pursued an official and announced policyrnof genocide against the Orthodox, has made him in the eyes ofrnthe Serbs —however unfairly —a symbol of the CatholicrnChurch’s hostilit}’ to the Orthodox.rnIn the Balkans, where one does not expect fair play, it isrnsomewhat surprising that the Bishop of Mostar (whose Orthodoxrnbrother lives, now, in the Republika Srpska) has unequivocallyrncondemned the fraudulent “apparitions” at Medjugorjern—phony miracles that have funded the Croatian warrnmachine and drawn attention away from the scene of Croatianrnatrocities in World War II. Despite Bishop Ratko Peric’s statementsrnand the conclusive investigative reporting of E. MichaelrnJones in his recent book, The Medjugorje Deception, the Vaticanrnmaintains a discreet silence on Medjugorje. Technically,rnthe decision does belong to the local bishop; nonetheless, accordingrnto Cardinal Ratzinger, the Vatican was on the point ofrnissuing a statement when the break-up of Yugoslavia complicatedrnthings.rnThe beatification of Stepinac, coupled with continued acquiescencernin the racketeering Franciscans at Medjugorje, arern”chillingly similar” to the Vatican’s cordial relations with NazirnCroatia in the 1940’s, and the Orthodox, understandably, arernalarmed by what they see as evidence of a continuing Catholicrnconspiracy against their church. There are, however, less sinisterrnexplanations: Michael Jones argues that Pope John Paul IIrncannot help viewing Croatian anti-communists through a Polishrnlens. However, the Orthodox, who can only interpret thernCatholic Church’s recent actions in the light of their own experience,rnare in no mood for ecumenical dialogue.rnProtestants have been, if anything, more predatory than thernCatholics in recent years. Instead of sending missionariesrnto convert the anti-Christians who now inhabit the Protestantrnheartland —Germany, Switzerland, Britain, and Scandinaviarn—Protestants are using the allure of Western capitalism asrnbait for the downtrodden Orthodox. The implied message isrn”Forget about all those stuffy traditions and switch to the religionrnof jeans and coke and mutual funds.” The pitch remindsrnme of the atheist parodv of a Pepsi commercial popular in thern50’s:rnChristianit}’ hits the spot.rnTwelve apostles, that’s a lot.rnJesus Christ, the virgin too,rnChristianity is for you.rnTo be fair, I do not think that these missionary groups havernreflected upon their motives. Wlien I asked one of their leadersrnif he worked through local churches in Russia, he told me,rn”Always.” But, asked if that included the Orthodox, hernreplied—without batting an eye — “Never,” as if it were inconceivable.rnI repeated this story to a Lutheran friend, who wasrnquick to defend the missionaries: “Oh, but the Russian Orthodoxrnare trying to exclude us.” I tried to explain that religiousrnpluralism is not a Christian ideal but an irrvention of modernrnliberalism, and I sketched out a little of the heroic histor’ of Orthodoxrnchurches in the Slavic world and explained what thernOrthodox had suffered in the past few generations. Why shouldrnwe treat them like heathens, I asked, simply because they arernpoor and vulnerable? Seeing that the lady, a good and compassionaternChristian, was faltering, I put the question plainly:rnAre the Orthodox Christian or not? If they are not, there is arngreat deal of history that must be rewritten—going back to therndays of the apostles—and if they are Christian, then how canrnwe justif)’ our treahnent of them?rnThe Orthodox can give as bad as they get, and even fromrnCreek and Slavic Americans, I am beginning to hear the paranoidrnfantasy of a vast Vatican conspiracy (in tandem with thernFreemasons) to destroy Orthodoxy. Although some of the bestrnChristians I know are Anglicans who converted to Ortliodoxy,rnconverts are generally more fanatical than cradle Orthodox.rnOne of them recenfly told me that all Western Christians werernheretics, and that Copts and Monophysites were more “Orthodox”rnthan the regular “Byzantines” — the Copts reallv knowrnhow to keep their women in place, apparently, and this is a realrnplus for an emasculate American who is afraid of women.rnThe next stop is Islam and a quartet of mail-order brides fronrrnthe Philippines.rnBut even if all the obstacles and misunderstandings were setrnaside, the prospects for Christian unity would be far fromrnbright, if only because most ecumenical projects have a queerrnsmell to them. Schemes to unify the Church are exactiy likernproposals for world government, that is, thinly disguised imperialisms,rnwhich take the form either of Rome or Constantinoplerngraciously condescending to admit the prodigal son back intornthe family (with suitable concessions to the poor fellow’s injuredrnvanit}’) or, even worse, a blueprint for a universal churchrnbureaucracy that would transcend all the sectarian hierarchiesrnand, ultimately, reach out to Muslims, Buddhists, and whorn12/CHRONICLESrnrnrn