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Cablegate: Vatican Ire at New Russian "Nyet" to Its Clergy

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS VATICAN 004470

SIPDIS

DEPT. FOR EUR/WE (MENNUTI), EUR/RUS, DRL/IRF

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KIRF SOCI PL RS VT
SUBJECT: VATICAN IRE AT NEW RUSSIAN "NYET" TO ITS CLERGY

1. THE VATICAN HAS SHARPLY CRITICIZED THE RECENT EXPULSION
OF TWO POLISH PRIESTS FROM RUSSIA. THIS BRINGS TO FIVE THE
NUMBER OF CATHOLIC CLERGY EXPELLED FROM RUSSIA THIS YEAR,
INCLUDING BISHOP JERZY MAZUR OF THE SIBERIAN DIOCESE OF ST.
JOSEPH. A TERSE STATEMENT ISSUED SEPTEMBER 9 BY VATICAN
SPOKESMAN JOAQUIN NAVARRO-VALLS WARNED, "THIS DEVELOPMENT IS
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 02 VATICA 04470 131302Z
SO SERIOUS THAT ALREADY SOME PEOPLE ARE TALKING ABOUT A NEW
PERSECUTION." HE SAID THE HOLY SEE HAD YET TO RECEIVE AN
OFFICIAL EXPLANATION FOR THE EXPULSIONS. THE HOLY SEE'S
NUNCIO IN MOSCOW, ARCHBISHOP GIORGIO ZUR, HAS PROTESTED TO
THE RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY AND VOICED THE VATICAN'S
CONCERN ABOUT THE PROTECTION OF RELIGIOUS FREEDOMS FOR
RUSSIA'S CATHOLIC MINORITY. THE HEAD OF RUSSIA'S CATHOLIC
COMMUNITY, ARCHBISHOP TADEUSZ KONDRUSIEWICZ, APPEALED
SEPTEMBER 12 TO RUSSIAN AND INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS
GROUPS TO PROTEST WHAT HE CALLED A "LARGE SCALE ANTI-
CATHOLIC CAMPAIGN." THE ARCHBISHOP ALSO LAMENTED RECENT
ACTS OF VANDALISM AGAINST CATHOLIC PROPERTIES.

2. REFLECTING THE HOLY SEE'S MOUNTING CONCERN WITH THE
SITUATION IN RUSSIA, HEADS OF ACCREDITED MISSIONS HAVE BEEN
CALLED TO A MEETING SEPTEMBER 16 DURING WHICH FOREIGN
MINISTER TAURAN WILL BRIEF, AMONG OTHER THINGS, THE HOLY
SEE'S POSITION ON THE PROBLEMS EXPERIENCED BY THE CATHOLIC
CHURCH IN RUSSIA.

3. COMMENT: THE CLERGY EXPULSIONS BEGAN AFTER THE VATICAN
ELEVATED THE STATUS OF FOUR RUSSIAN CATHOLIC ECCLESIASTICAL
JURISDICTIONS LAST FEBRUARY, A MOVE SEVERELY CRITICIZED BY
THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH. THE FACT THAT SOME RUSSIAN
CATHOLICS AND CLERGY ARE OF POLISH ORIGIN IS ALSO A FACTOR
IN THE TENSION. POLISH CLERGY ARE ACCUSED BY THE ORTHODOX
OF BEING ANTI-RUSSIAN. THEIR CRITICS SAY THEY CELEBRATE
MASS IN POLISH, FOMENT ANTI-RUSSIAN SENTIMENTS AND DON'T
LEARN THE LANGUAGE. YET THE HOLY SEE SAYS THEY SEND POLISH
AND OTHER SLAVIC CLERGY TO RUSSIA BECAUSE A) THEY CAN LEARN
THE LANGUAGE EASILY, B) THEY UNDERSTAND RUSSIAN CULTURE AND
UNCLASSIFIED

PAGE 03 VATICA 04470 131302Z
C) THERE AREN'T YET ENOUGH TRAINED RUSSIAN PRIESTS. THE
ORTHODOX CHURCH NEVERTHELESS REGARDS CATHOLICISM AS AN
ELEMENT OF WESTERN CIVILIZATION THAT BOTH FASCINATES AND
DISTURBS. AT A TIME WHEN SECULAR RUSSIA IS OPENING UP MORE
AND MORE TO THE WEST, THE ORTHODOX CHURCH, FOR WHICH SUCH
OPENNESS IS A THREAT TO THE NATIONAL, CULTURAL AND RELIGIOUS
IDENTITY OF RUSSIA, WILL EXERCISE ITS STILL CONSIDERABLE
INFLUENCE WITH THE RUSSIAN AUTHORITIES TO PROTECT ITS
POSITION. END COMMENT.

HARDT

UNCLASSIFIED

>

2002VATICA04470 - Classification: UNCLASSIFIED

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