Russia Opposes Creation of Catholic Dioceses

MOSCOW, NOV. 15, 2002 ( The creation of four Catholic dioceses in Russia is “unacceptable,” states Russia’s Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs, Yuri Fedotov at a gathering of Orthodox clergy.

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“Our position is clear, and we have shown the Vatican that its conduct is unacceptable,” the Vice-Minister said, referring to the Holy See’s plan “to divide” the Federation’s territory in four dioceses, Misna missionary agency reported.

Fedotov even told the Vatican that some Catholic priests “are not welcome” in Russia, a statement that supports the “hostile” attitudes of the government towards members of the Catholic clergy.

In recent months, without apparent cause, five Catholic religious have been expelled from Russia, including Bishop Jerzy Mazur of the St. Joseph diocese of Irkutsk in Eastern Siberia.

The conflict has caused a serious break between the Catholic Church and the Moscow authorities. John Paul II was obliged to ask Russian President Vladimir Putin himself for an explanation, which came three months later.

The Catholic hierarchy of the Russian capital was not satisfied with Putin’s reply, making the complex relations between the Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church even more difficult.

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