April 22, 2013

Russia’s Catholic Church expressed surprise and concern after a wave of raids on its parishes and charities, part of a government clampdown on organizations with foreign links.

“The Catholic Church is classified as an organization benefitting from foreign funds,” explained Father Kirill Gulbunov, spokesman for the Moscow Archdiocese.

“We can’t help feeling surprised that associations linked with our Church are viewed as possible sources of extremism or terrorist activity.”

Gulbunov spoke to Catholic News Service April 9, the same day security agents raided the Moscow offices of Caritas, the Catholic charitable agency.

On April 3, government agents “inspected” Caritas headquarters in St. Petersburg.

In February, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered checks on thousands of nongovernmental organizations and the seizing of computers and documents, under a July 2012 law requiring groups with outside funding to register as “foreign agents.”