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VATICAN CITY, APR 20, 2002 (VIS) - Joaquin Navvarro-Valls, director of the
Holy See Press Office, made the following declaration this afternoon
regarding Bishop Jerzy Mazur, S.V.D, who has been expelled from the Russian

"Friday evening, April 19, 2002, at Sheremetievo-2 Airport in Moscow,
Bishop Jerzy Mazur, S.V.D., of the Catholic diocese of St. Joseph of
Irkutsk, in Eastern Siberia, was denied entry into the Russian Federation
upon his early afternoon arrival from Warsaw, and was made to reboard a
flight for Warsaw. No explanation was provided to Bishop Mazur regarding
the measure taken towards him.

"The Secretary of State and the Pontifical Representation in Moscow
immediately intervened along with the Russian authorities, asking for an
explanation and requesting the return of the entrance visa to the prelate.

"What happened to Bishop Mazur, several days after what happened to the
Italian priest Stefano Caprio, of St. Rosario at Vladimir and Ivanovo
(Archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow), represents a serious
violation of the commitments undertaken by the Russian governing
authorities, signatories of the final document of the Conference for
Security and Cooperation in Europe (Vienna, January 15, 1989). In fact, in
the "Principles" Section, article 16, it was ratified that "the
participating States, among other things, ... will respect the right of
religious communities to build and maintain freely accessible places of
worship or meeting; to organize themselves according to their own
hierarchal and institutional structure; to choose, nominate and replace
their own personnel in accordance with the respective requirements and
their own norms as well as any agreement freely accepted by them and the
state." We hope, therefore, for a prompt review of the measure taken and
that Bishop Mazur can soon return to his faithful in East Siberia."

Courtesy of: Vatican Information Service/Catholic Information Network