VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 10, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican pointedly protested the expulsion of yet another Catholic priest from Russia.
Polish Father Jaroslaw Wisniewski was detained Monday when he arrived at the Khabarovsk airport and expelled today to Japan, where his flight originated, according to a Vatican press statement.
Father Wisniewski is at least the fourth Catholic cleric to be expelled from Russia in recent months. Authorities in the majority Orthodox country have given no specific explanations for the expulsions.
“It is such a serious incident, that there is already talk of authentic persecution,” Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro-Valls said in the press statement. “It is even more serious that the Vatican has not received official explanations on the reasons for the expulsions.”
Navarro-Valls reported that the Vatican “will mobilize through diplomatic channels to resolve the problem.”
When Archbishop Giorgio Zur, the papal nuncio in Moscow, heard the news on Monday, he went immediately to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to hand in a note of protest. Officials there said they were unaware of the incident.
The expulsions began after John Paul II created four dioceses on Russian territory last February, in respect of the right to religious liberty to which Russia has committed itself in several international treaties.
In August, Russia refused a visa to a Slovak religious who had been working in Yaroslavl. Last April, Bishop Jerzy Mazur of St. Joseph of Irkutsk, in eastern Siberia, and Father Stefano Caprio, a parish priest in Vladimir and Ivanovo, were expelled.