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Moldovan Orthodox Church accuses authorities of harassing priests and believers

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  • Bill Samsonoff
    http://www.pr-inside.com/moldovan-orthodox-church-accuses-authorities-r382485.htm Moldovan Orthodox Church accuses authorities of harassing priests and
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 12, 2008
      http://www.pr-inside.com/moldovan-orthodox-church-accuses-authorities-r382485.htm

      Moldovan Orthodox Church accuses authorities of harassing priests and believers

      2008-01-11 17:42:00 -

      CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) - The head of one of the
      Moldovan Orthodox Churches accused authorities
      Friday of harassing priests and believers, after
      four priests and a nun were expelled from Moldova and banned from returning.

      Bishop Petru Paduraru, who heads the Autonomous
      Bessarabian Metropolitan, an Orthodox Church,
      sent a letter to the Council of Europe and the
      Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
      In it, he detailed what he said were abuses
      committed by authorities in an effort to make
      priests leave the church, to which 20 percent of
      Moldova's Orthodox believers belong.

      «Starting in December, most of the priests were
      visited at home or in their churches by police
      and secret police,» Paduraru wrote. «They were
      interrogated about why they would not pledge
      allegiance to the Russian Orthodox Church and
      prefer to stay in the Bessarabian Orthodox
      Church,» which they said was «an illegal schism.

      «In some cases authorities have told priests that
      if they leave the church they will have real
      (material) benefits,» Paduraru said in his letter.

      Believers have also been questioned by police on
      streets and in town halls about why they belong to the church, priests said.

      The Bessarabian church is subordinate to the
      Romanian Orthodox Church, while the main Moldovan
      Orthodox Church _ to which 80 percent of Moldovan
      Orthodox believers belong _ is subordinate to the Russian Orthodox Church.

      The Bessarabian church was disbanded a few years
      after Moldova joined the Soviet Union in 1940 and
      was organized again in 1992, a year after Moldova declared independence.
      From Dec. 25 through Jan, 7, four priests and a
      nun, all Romanian citizens, were expelled from
      Moldova on the grounds their residency papers
      were not in order. All were banned from returning.

      Authorities in Chisinau have declined to comment on the allegations.

      Relations between Moldova and Romania in recent
      months. Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin has
      moved closer to Russia, while Romanian President
      Traian Basescu has offered Romanian citizenship
      to hundreds of thousands of Romanians. Romania
      joined the European Union in 2007.

      About 88 percent of Moldova's 4.2 million
      citizens are Orthodox. The country was part of Romania until 1940.
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