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Moscow Archbishop disappointed by Putin silence

Russian President Vladimir Putin's silence in the face of the Pope's plea over an expelled bishop is disappointing, says the Catholic archbishop in Moscow.

Nevertheless, Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz remains optimistic that John Paul II will still be able to visit Russia.

The archbishop made his comments in Rome during the past week, where he joined Adelaide's Archbishop Philip Wilson and 27 other archbishops to receive the pallium, a band of white wool decorated with black crosses that symbolises their bond with the Holy See.

Despite the Church's challenges in Russia, Archbishop Kondrusiewicz said there is no lack of positive signs, the result of the sacrifice of the martyrs and of so many faithful witnesses of the Gospel.

He referred to the case of Polish Bishop Jerzy Mazur, head of the Diocese of Irkutsk in Siberia, whose visa was canceled in April, barring him from returning to his community. Weeks before, the same thing happened to Italian Fr Stefano Caprio, a missionary. Both measures were taken following the institution of four Catholic dioceses in Russia, and the ensuing protest of the head of the Orthodox Church.

"President Putin's lack of response to the Holy Father's letter, in which he requested an intervention in favour of Mazur so that he could return to his diocese, has greatly disappointed me, also as a Russian citizen," said Archbishop Kondrusiewicz, referring to a letter signed on 8 May by the Pope.

"I hope that my president, for whom I pray, will realise that the Pontiff is also a head of state," and, as such, has the right at least to an explanation, the archbishop said. "I hope a solution will be found shortly," he added.

Catholic Church in Russia


4 Jul 2002