DAILY CATHOLIC     FRI-SAT-SUN     May 21-23, 1999     vol. 10, no. 99

NEWS & VIEWS
from a CATHOLIC perspective

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BELARUS GOVERNMENT BLOCKS FOREIGN PRIESTS FOR CHURCH

          MINSK, Belarus (CWNews.com/KNS) - The Belarus government has told the Catholic Church in the former Soviet republic that no more foreign priests could be brought into the country now that the first group of native priests had been ordained, according to Keston News Service.

          "Recently we were officially informed that no more foreign priests could come to Belarus because the Catholic Church now has a seminary of its own and the first priests were already trained," reported Cardinal Kazimierz Swiatek. At age 84, the cardinal serves as archbishop of Minsk and bishop of Pinsk. Condemned to death in 1939, he was imprisoned for a decade and in 1991 became the first Catholic bishop in Belarus for almost 50 years.

          Since that time the first seminary has received 25 candidates for the priesthood annually -- not enough to replenish the parishes, ninety percent of which were destroyed or confiscated by the Communists. The initial rebuilding of the Church has been made possible by 130 Polish priests who have come to serve in Belarus since the early 1990s. These foreign priests -- seven of whom serve in the Chernobyl diocese -- are those affected by this government decree.

          Cardinal Swiatek said, "We are most heavily restricted at the administrative level. The priests who come from abroad require permission from the state, without which they cannot carry out their ministry as priests." Despite severe restrictions the Cardinal said he will press on rebuilding and restoring the Catholic Church. When asked what gives him the strength to continue his work, the cardinal replied, "The Church in Belarus is led by the Holy Spirit, by God. I am only His instrument."


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May 21-23, 1999       volume 10, no. 99
NEWS & VIEWS

DAILY CATHOLIC

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