MOSCOW, AUG. 30, 2002 (Zenit.org).- In a reply to a letter from John Paul II, President Vladimir Putin failed to explain why a bishop and two priests were expelled from Russia, says Moscow’s Catholic archbishop.
Following the April expulsion of Bishop Jerzy Mazur of the Diocese of St. Joseph of Irkutsk in Siberia, and the earlier expulsion of Italian priest Father Stefano Caprio, the authorities then expelled Father Stanislav Krajnak, a Slovak religious, refusing to renew his visa.
Father Krajnak, a religious of the Society of the Divine Word, worked in the city of Yaroslavl, about 150 miles northeast of Moscow. He left the country before his visa expired on Tuesday, said Metropolitan Catholic Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz of Moscow.
The expulsions took place following John Paul II’s decision last February to create four new dioceses in the Russian Federation.
“The Orthodox Church doesn’t give visas, so we can’t say the Orthodox Church took away the visas,” Archbishop Kondrusiewicz told the Associated Press. “But it is such a coincidence that precisely after Feb. 11, this whole campaign began.”
“This is a campaign against the Catholic Church,” the archbishop added.
In May, the Holy Father wrote to President Putin asking him to intervene in Bishop’s Mazur case and to help the prelate return to his diocese, the Vatican said.
Archbishop Jean-Louis Tauran, the Vatican’s secretary for relations with states, complained in June that the Vatican received no response from the Russian president.
Archbishop Kondrusiewicz said that Putin replied to John Paul II’s letter about a month ago.
“The answer did not satisfy us,” and the president did not explain the visa refusals, the archbishop added, declining to give further details.