Russian Catholics, including clerics, fear conscription

Russian Catholics fear conscription

A senior Russian priest said many young Catholics fear being forced into conscription along with their priests to join the war against Ukraine.

The priest, who asked not to be named, also dismissed President Vladimir Putin’s threats of nuclear war as “just words”.

“Although I’m not a military person, I don’t think the Russian army could even use nuclear weapons — and if it did, this would be much more dangerous for Russia itself than anyone else,” the unnamed priest said.

“People are certainly frightened here, particularly since Catholic parishioners and clergy could now be called up, beginning with those who’ve done military service. But I don’t think there’s much to fear from Putin, who’s just coming out with words.”

Street protests erupted in Russia after Putin’s 21 September order for a national call-up of 300,000 reservists after setbacks in the Ukraine war.

The priest told Catholic News Service that students and young people had “reacted very emotionally” to the mobilisation order, with many debating its practical consequences.

“Some young Catholics have already left the country, and more are doing so now,” the priest told CNS.

“The mass mobilisation will very much affect church life here, particularly since many Catholics are strongly against the war and won’t want to take part. But those with military training up to age 50 may well have to go, while the order could soon be extended to others who haven’t even done military service.”

In his speech, Putin said his “special military operation” was continuing to liberate Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region from a “neo-Nazi regime”.

The Russian leader commented that his country would use “all means at its disposal,” including nuclear weapons, to resist attempts by Western countries to “weaken, divide and ultimately destroy” it, while aggressively imposing “their will and pseudo-values”.

He added that the partial mobilisation would initially concern “only military reservists” with “specific occupational specialities and corresponding experience,” who would be given additional training for active service.

The Russian priest told CNS most protesters had previously been against the war and that most soldiers had been recruited from Russia’s more remote regions.

The priest told CNS that a “much larger group” of previously undecided citizens could also come out in opposition once the draft gained momentum and the war was “brought closer to people in the main cities”.




Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , , ,