Bishop Mazur Confident Russia Will React Favorably to Papal Message

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 16, 2003 ( John Paul II’s recent appeal to Russian authorities «has given us hope and courage,» says the bishop who was expelled from eastern Siberia last April.

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Bishop Jerzy Mazur of St. Joseph’s Diocese of Irkutsk was expelled for no reason. Seven Catholic priests, including three recently in St. Petersburg, have also been barred from Russia.

On Monday the Pope pleaded with Russia to end the crisis over the expulsions.

In statements to SIR agency, Bishop Mazur said: «I hope that all were able to hear him [the Pope] and that they will not remain silent. I also hope that the Russian government will make concrete decisions so that Catholic faithful in Russia will at last be able to have their pastors again.»

«Ecumenism today means to go out again to all those believers, Orthodox, Catholics, Protestants and other confessions, who have suffered much in the recent past. Many of them witnessed through martyrdom,» Bishop Mazur explained. «This is the base from which to begin to celebrate once again the ‘Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.'»

«Under the cross there is no place for Catholics, Orthodox or Protestants,» he added. «Under the cross we are all the same, we are really brothers.»

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