Second house of Mother Teresa in Moscow risks demolition. Msgr. Pezzi warns against
by Nina Achmatova
At the inauguration of a statue of the Blessed, the Catholic archbishop recalls the value of the work of the Missionaries of Charity and warns against a repeat of the mistakes from the Soviet era. Nuncio in Russia: "moral duty" to help the sisters find a new building.
Moscow (AsiaNews) - The ceremony for the inauguration of the statue of Mother Teresa next to the cathedral in Moscow, on 24 September, was an occasion for the Missionaries of Charity, to highlight their situation in the Russian capital and for the Archdiocese to denounce the dangers of a "dictatorship of law".
The monument to the Blessed Teresa of Calcutta has been donated to the archdiocese of the Mother of God by the sculptor Gregory Pototsky and its location near the largest Catholic church in Russia was part of the celebrations for the centenary of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (23-24 September).
The joy of the event, however, - reports the archdiocese information service - was tainted by "sadness" at the recent demolition of the Missionaries houses in Moscow and concerns over the threat hanging over another one.
Founded in 1990 and run by missionaries from around the world, the Missionaries’ hospice - composed of two structures - not only takes care of abandoned children, disabled and terminally ill, but also has a recovery shelter for alcoholics. For over 20 years it has fed more than 150 homeless people every day, offering them a chance to wash and rest for several hours in a covered and warm place. Located in the eastern part of the city, the hospice had attracted the attention of City Hall three years ago when the authorities asked a court to order the nuns to demolish one of two hospice facilities and remove the top floor of the 'other, because of a "lack of permits."
The first building was demolished last week, despite attempts at mediation, by the local Catholic and Russian Orthodox Church. The threat of demolition now hangs on the second. Moscow is thus the first city to initiate criminal proceedings against the religious order founded by Mother Teresa.
"I am convinced that the nuns perform a job that is not only useful but necessary for the city - said the archbishop in Moscow, Msgr. Paul Pezzi- their loving service contributes greatly to the spiritual and social development of Moscow. " The archbishop also denounced that "it was necessary to try and find a different legal solution that could have saved the building."
"The sisters of Mother Teresa have conducted a valuable service for the city and its residents for many years, without asking any help from the municipal authorities", note the Missionaries in a statement issued by through the archdiocese information service. A representative of the religious order however reassures that the hospice work will continue, but probably in another building because, "unlike in every other countries where the Missionaries of Charity are offered facilities for free by local governments," the Russian authorities showed no interest in helping the Order to find a new home.
"We dedicate this memorial in a difficult time for the sisters of Mother Teresa in Moscow. - denounced the Vatican nuncio in Russia, Mgr. Ivan Jurkovic, in his speech during the ceremony Sept. 24 - I hope that their love for others and their complete dedication will be appreciated by the people and authorities, and will give birth to desire and even a sense of moral duty to assist them in obtaining a new building where they can pursue their work for the most marginalized with dignity. "
"We all remember well that once this beautiful church was closed and almost destroyed by the Communist government on an entirely 'legal' basis with all the necessary formalities - warned Msgr. Pezzi, in his homily during the Mass for the anniversary of the cathedral in Moscow - the consequences of this 'dictatorship of law' were really terrible. "