Orthodox Attack Pentecostal Church and Catholic Pilgrimage

Mobs in Ex-Soviet Georgia Incited by Clerics

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TBILISI, Georgia, JULY 10, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Two groups incited by Orthodox priests attacked Protestant and Catholic communities last week in ex-Soviet Georgia, witnesses told the Keston News Service reported.

The clerics led the attack on a Russian-speaking Pentecostal church in the Nadzaladevi district of Tbilisi, witnesses told England-based Keston. In another incident, a mob attacked a Catholic pilgrimage en route in eastern Georgia. Apostolic Administrator Bishop Giuseppe Pasotto of the Caucasus was among the pilgrims, Keston reported.

The daughter of Pentecostal pastor Nikolai Kalutsky said, «On Saturday, incited by the priests, the mob of about 30 or 40 people burst into the house, beat people, frightened the children, stole Bibles, rummaged through people’s bags and uttered very many threats — to the believers and to our family. It was a pogrom.»

In a separate incident, two Orthodox priests were reportedly behind attacks on a Catholic pilgrimage in eastern Georgia in which the apostolic administrator was taking part.

Oleg Khubashvili, head of the Pentecostal Union, said he did not know to which the jurisdiction the Orthodox priests belonged. The Georgian Orthodox Patriarchate said it had no information about the attacks.

In the other incident, a group of Catholics — among them Bishop Pasotto — who were on pilgrimage to the mainly Catholic village of Sanavardo of Kvareli region in eastern Georgia on July 3 were physically attacked by a group of people reportedly sent by two Orthodox priests.

They told the pilgrims they had no right to walk in their diocese. «The two priests stopped us, thinking we were Jehovah’s Witnesses,» Bishop Pasotto told Keston from Tbilisi. «We had a discussion — they didn’t say anything bad to us — and then said we could continue. It was only later that the crowd of people arrived.»

Bishop Pasotto said the two priests were from the local diocese of the Orthodox patriarchate. He said he would deliver a letter detailing the attack to the president’s office.

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