Moscow (AsiaNews) - By March, all the parishes of the Catholic Church in the Crimea - the Ukrainian peninsula passed to Russia, after a controversial referendum not recognized by the international community - will have to adapt to the Russian legislation on religious organizations. This was reported by the Ukrainian service of Polish radio. The news has been confirmed by AsiaNews sources in the Catholic community in Russia, according to whom "after initial problems" with the new authorities of Crimea, "before the end of 2014, it has come to a solution of transition."
In what has been learned, both Catholics and Orthodox will have to register, according to the Russian Federation "law on religious organizations", which requires the presence of 10 people with Russian passports as representatives of each parish. The Bishop of Odessa and Simferopol, Yatsek Pil, told Polish Radio that on 22 January he had sent, "all necessary documents" to Moscow and is now waiting for a response.
Once Russian authorities give their assent then parishes will begin to register. Only then will they be able to invite foreign citizens to work, writes the Portal-credo. "This ID process is difficult for both Catholics and Orthodox," said the AsiaNews source continues, explaining that "now the priority is to accompany the local community" in this transition phase.
The Vatican does not officially recognize the Crimea as part of Russia, but is concerned for the faithful. In March, the Catholic Church in the peninsula will be 'restored' and should move from diocese to 'pastoral district'. There are about ten parishes involved, including Greek-Catholic parishes.
Previously, following the annexation, the Catholic Churches' first attempt to register failed. At the time, the reason given was the fact that the documents were written in Ukrainian. Even now, despite the assurances of Simferopol, there may be problems related to the non-renewal of visas and residence permits for local clergy, including many citizens are Poles or Ukrainians.
As reported by Forum 18, this has already happened three Franciscan Sisters Missionaries of Mary: in the absence of renewal of their residence permit, the Catholic convent in the capital of Crimea will be forced to close. (M.A.)