MONDAY IN HOLY WEEK
April 17, 2000
volume 11, no. 76
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NEWS & VIEWS     Acknowledgments
Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

BELARUS CARDINAL ORDERS PRIEST TO DEFY EXPULSION ORDER

    MINSK (CWNews.com) - One hour before Friday's deadline, by which he was due to leave Belarus, Catholic priest Father Zbigniew Karolyak said the head of the Catholic Church in the country, Cardinal Kazimierz Swiatek, has ordered him to defy the government expulsion order and remain in his parish in the western Belarusian town of Brest.

    "Cardinal Swiatek told me that I remain, as before, priest of the parish of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. So I must stay in the parish," he said. The Belarusian government had ordered the Polish priest to leave the country on Thursday after refusing to extend his visa which expired in March. At a hearing, Father Karolyak was fined and a deportation stamp was placed in his passport.

    The priest's lawyer, Igor Kabalik, said that since the cardinal has issued the instruction to Father Karolyak to remain to serve his parish, the priest will not comply with the expulsion order. Kabalik believes that given Father Karolyak's decision to comply with his cardinal's instructions and remain, the authorities will forcibly deport him once the deadline has expired. Kabalik said some half a dozen parishioners at a time are mounting a guard outside Father Karolyak's home in an attempt to defend him. Father Karolyak added that the parishioners will stay all night in the parish church.

    The police chief of the Leninsky district of Brest, Arkady Kostyuchik, fined Father Karolyak, who is a Polish citizen, 44,000 rubles (just over $50) on Thursday for remaining in Belarus without permission. Kostyuchik also issued the order for him to leave the country and the deportation order was stamped in his passport. The parish is contesting this decision and Kabalik said: "We have already lodged an appeal with the police."

    Under canon law, a priest is named to a parish by his bishop and is to exercise that responsibility until the bishop relieves him of it. Father Karolyak has served as priest of the parish for nine years, despite the persistent attempts of the local authorities to remove him. Father Karolyak said there had been "great pressure" on the parish from the authorities.

    The Belarusian government has waged a campaign in recent years against Polish priests who they consider a destabilizing force in the mainly Russian Orthodox country.

          

April 17, 2000
volume 11, no. 76
NEWS & VIEWS

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