Russia Expelled Catholic Monk Last December

French Religious' Expulsion Adds to List

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MOSCOW, SEPT. 18, 2002 (Zenit.org).- The wave of expulsions of Catholic clergymen from Russia grew with the revelation that a French monk was expelled last December.



So far this year, five foreign Catholic clerics -- a bishop and four priests -- have been denied access to the Russian Federation. They are Bishop Jerzy Mazur, Father Stefano Caprio, Father Stanislav Krajnak, Father Jaroslaw Wisniewski and Father Edward Mackiewicz.

In February 2001, another foreign Catholic priest who had been working in Russia, Polish citizen Father Stanislav Opiela, was similarly refused an entry visa.

Keston News Service (http://www.keston.org) recently learned that a French monk, Brother Bruno Maziolek, was also denied an entry visa, bringing to seven the number of Catholic clergy known to have been barred from the country. Like Father Opiela, Brother Bruno had previously been working in Russia for the best part of 10 years.

A Catholic source who wished to remain anonymous said Brother Bruno had been informed by the Russian security services in March that he had not been granted an entry visa because he was deemed a danger to the Russian Federation.

According to the source, since 1991 the French monk had run an exclusively social ministry in a village called Novoye, near the town of Pereslavl-Zalessky, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) northeast of Moscow.

Through his independent foundation "Triumph of the Heart," Brother Bruno had set up a children's center for the surrounding villages and a rehabilitation program for drug addicts, as well as distributed large quantities of humanitarian aid. This activity was conducted independently from the Catholic parish in Yaroslavl, with which Brother Bruno had no contact, the source said. The monk does not speak Russian, the source said.

The regional official dealing with religious affairs, Boris Kuznetsov, maintained that Brother Bruno had been engaged in charitable work, but the Moscow Patriarchate's position was "quite hard-line -- they suspected it was proselytism."