Magazine article The Christian Century

Vatican, Orthodox Clash on New Dioceses. (News)

Magazine article The Christian Century

Vatican, Orthodox Clash on New Dioceses. (News)

Article excerpt

Tensions between the Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches have heightened with the Vatican accusing the Orthodox Church of seeking to violate the right under Russian law to freedom of religion. The Vatican was replying to a demand from the Moscow Patriarchate that Pope John Paul II correct his "strategic error" of establishing four Catholic dioceses in historically Orthodox Russia.

"Beyond the contingent facts, the basic question seems to me: do they want to accept and protect the fundamental rights of freedom of conscience and freedom of religion that are the basis of every form of civil and pluralistic coexistence?" Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said. "These rights permit every religion to be recognized and respected in its own specific identity, avoiding discrimination among citizens for religious reasons as, moreover, is guaranteed by the regulations of the Russian Federation."

The Vatican announced February 11 that the pope has created four dioceses to serve the 1.3 million Catholics living in Russia. It said the establishment of the dioceses to replace temporary organizational units served to "normalize" the Catholic presence in that country. …

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