ASIA/KYRGYZSTAN - Police officers in the Catholic church in Talas during Mass. Slovak nun fined

Tuesday, 28 March 2023 local churches   liturgy   laws   religious minorities  

Talas (Agenzia Fides) - During the evening Eucharistic celebration on Sunday, 26 March, some police officers and the State Committee for National Security entered the Catholic parish church in Talas (St. Nicholas parish), in Kyrgyzstan, and fined Sister Daniela Činčilova, Slovak citizen of the School Sisters of St. Francis Congregation, as part of criminal proceedings under Art. 142 ('Violation of the legislation on freedom of religion and religious organisations') of the Criminal Code of the Republic. According to investigators, the nun is responsible for spreading Roman Catholicism among the residents of Talas without the authorization of the State Commission for Religious Affairs. "The decision to fine Sister Daniela was certainly taken out of ignorance on the part of the local personnel involved in the operation, since the nun did not violate the regulations in force in Kirghizstan", said to Fides Damian Wojciechowski SJ, Jesuit brother and director of the curia of the Apostolic Administration of Kirghizia. In fact, Sister Daniela was only reading from the ambo one of the readings provided for in the liturgical calendar, i.e. she was neither preaching nor presiding over the celebration of the Eucharist, both of which are actions that a foreign citizen can only perform if in possession of a special certificate issued by the competent government bodies. "We have already taken steps to lodge an appeal in court and we are confident that the fine can be cancelled, since we have always acted in accordance with the legislation in force," the Jesuit continues. There are currently several thousand Catholics living in Kirghizstan, a predominantly Muslim country, of whom about 500 assiduously attend the nine parishes in the Republic. The three main churches are in Biškek, Jalal-Abad and Talas. The latter, reconsecrated in 2019, was the first to be reopened after the end of the USSR as a proper church. Many local Catholics live far from the parishes and gather to pray in private homes, receiving periodic visits from missionaries working in Kirghizia. Among the Catholic religious, the most numerically significant presence is that of the Jesuits (9 priests and one brother, from Slovenia, Vietnam, the United States, Kazakhstan, and Poland), who are joined by 5 School Sisters of St. Francis, 4 Missionary Sisters of Charity, 2 Consolata Missionary Sisters and a diocesan priest from Slovakia. (CD) (Agenzia Fides, 28/3/2023)