Vatican denounces Russia slur on Catholic Church
In the latest episode in an increasingly bitter battle with Moscow, the Vatican on Monday denounced what it called a "despicable operation" to discredit the Roman Catholic Church in Russia.
The statement by Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls followed an appeal to human rights groups last month by the head of the church in Russia against what he called a "large-scale anti-Catholic campaign."
As examples, the Vatican statement cited the transformation of an apartment rented out for charitable purposes by the Franciscan Order into a house of prostitution and Russian news reports depicting people in religious dress in "immoral poses."
The newspaper and TV reports were "deceitfully constructed" and clearly aimed at "damaging the reputation of the Catholic community," the statement said.
A 7 October article in the daily Komsomolskaya Pravda featured a photograph showing a woman lounging in an armchair in a nun's habit and a skimpy bra and panties, a man in a hooded monk's robe praying and the headline, "A Moscow monastery turned out to be a bordello."
"We see this as part of the campaign that has been going on for several months," said the Rev. Nikolai Dubinin, the deputy head of the order in Moscow. "We didn't think they would stoop this low."
Asked about the article, the newspaper's managing editor, Vladimir Mamontov, said, "In no way did the newspaper intend to compromise the Franciscan Order. The people who rented the apartment clearly used it for improper activities."
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