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Vatican censures Russia for restraints on Catholics' religious freedom


The Holy See has sent a public appeal to the Russian government, calling for Moscow to respect the religious freedom of Catholics living there.

After the expulsion of the fifth and sixth foreign-born Catholic priest from Russia, the Vatican has stepped up diplomatic efforts to protect the position of other priests serving in Russian parishes.

At a meeting of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the Vatican's representative, Msgr. Ettore Balestrero, reminded the representatives of 55 nations that the Helsinki Declaration of Human Rights guaranteed protection for religious liberty.

In a pointed reference to the situation in Russia, Msgr. Balestrero added that, under the terms of the Helsinki accord, "member states of the OSCE should reject any possible pressure exercised within their jurisdiction by any religious confession that might hamper the expression of religious freedom among other religious communities."

He continued: "There are some countries-- whose representatives are here today-- where the local Catholic communities lack priests, and need help from foreign-born clerics in order to exercise their freedom of religion."

Without explicitly naming Russia, he complained of countries that show "discriminatory treatment in providing visas for non-resident personnel."

LINKS
Papal spokesman says Russia deporting priest amounts to persecution (11/9/02)
Russia cancels another Catholic priest's visa (20/8/02)
Moscow Archbishop disappointed by Putin silence (4/7/02)
Keston Institute | Another Catholic Priest and Now Protestants Also Denied Visas
The Catholic Church in Russia



SOURCE
Catholic World News



13 Sep 2002