October 10, 2011

Russia's Catholic Church criticized the demolition of a hospice complex run by the Missionaries of Charity after a Moscow court ruled it was used illegally for charity work.

Moscow city officials were preparing to bulldoze a second building operated by the order, founded by Blessed Mother Teresa of Kolkata, India.

The first was destroyed Sept. 16 after a 2010 court ruling that claimed the sisters had legally rebuilt the complex but failed to register its "entry into use" two decades earlier.

"Nothing like this has happened to these sisters before anywhere in the world — it sets an unfortunate precedent," said Father Igor Kovalevsky, secretary-general of the Russian bishops' conference.

"It's an instance of excessive bureaucracy, and we still hope the dispute can be resolved by diplomatic help.

But for many Catholics and other Christians, it's a sign the Russian authorities aren't interested in works of charity," he told Catholic News Service.