Bishop Asks Help to End Prostitution Networks

Moldavian Pastor Explains Grim Situation

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CHISINAU, Moldova, FEB. 13, 2001 (ZENIT.org-AVVENIRE).- At age 40, Bishop Anton Cosa of Moldova has his hands full in this country of 4.5 million people.



The bishop has been deluged with questions over the last few days, after the Italian Catholic Church´s Regina Pacis center revealed the existence of an international prostitution network that uses young Moldavian women, with the acquiescence of NATO troops deployed in former Yugoslavia.

He already had lots of worries in this country, which is suffering from the erosion of values and its economy, problems typical among the former Soviet satellites. Moldova has about 20,000 Catholics.

"You from Western Europe know more than we do," the Romanian-born bishop said in an interview. "The newspapers here do not speak of it. It is not a topic of public suffering. In any case, the people think that the girls are better abroad than here, where we live like dogs."

--Q: Is the situation so bad?

--Bishop Cosa: I have been an apostolic administrator since 1993; when I arrived the people had a guaranteed income, although modest, and certain purchasing power. Now there is indigence; 70% of the people live in the greatest poverty, 70% of the economy is clandestine or criminal.

The governing class has no plans. Worse still: Corruption here has become a system, a structure and, to maintain the structure, there is competition for political power. Do you understand?

--Q: The Moldavian Minister of the Interior said in a European gathering that there is also trade in human organs. The poor sell a kidney to survive.

--Bishop Cosa: I know this Minister has almost lost his post. Now he has joined the Communist Party, which will probably win the elections on Feb. 23.

--Q: Are you worried?

--Bishop Cosa: If they get the absolute majority, they will change the constitution -- they have stated this. The present constitution recognizes the freedom of worship. However, I don´t think they will make the error of closing down [places of] worship. They will not ruin relations with Europe; they will not endanger the money sent by emigrants. It is the only income Moldova has and they know it.

Relations with Moscow will probably improve; they will put a damper on nationalism favoring annexation with Romania. However, they will not go back to Stalin´s times. There are new capitalists among them.

--Q: Are you referring to the secretary of the local Communist Party, who is known there as the "king of sugar"?

--Bishop Cosa: They are good heads and, politically, they are the best
trained. They have worked well in the market system, that´s all. Rather, if you allow me not to be diplomatic, I would like to say one thing ...

--Q: Go ahead.

--Bishop Cosa: Why does the West do so little for Moldova? Italy, for instance, where many of our young girls go, does not even have a consulate, which could be a filter against illegal immigration. Why not promote laws that guarantee Western businessmen who wish to invest here?

--Q: Are you proposing something similar to what has begun in Romania?

--Bishop Cosa: Precisely. One hundred foreign businessmen would bring jobs here, prospects for the future, and dignity. Why doesn´t Europe accept a quota of Moldavian immigrants? About 1,000?

--Q: Public opinion says, We already have many immigrants.

--Bishop Cosa: But Moroccans arrive there. Why not Moldavians? We are a Latin people. Like you, we speak a Latin language. One thousand permits a year are enough to give hope. Many would be happy to wait here, if not today, within a year or two, to be able to go to Italy.

And this hope would remove the temptation to illegal immigration, to entrusting themselves to the mafia circuits. Hope helps one to endure, to wait. These are people who want to do something, who want to work, but they need hope.