Page 1, 22nd August 1980

22nd August 1980
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Page 1, 22nd August 1980 — Iran sets up a committee to protect religious minorities
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Locations: Rome, Teheran

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Iran sets up a committee to protect religious minorities

l'rom Desmond O'Grady iii Rome

ARCHBISHOP 'Ililarion Capucci returned from Teheran to Rome on Monday with an optimistic report on his negotiations with Iranian authorities on behalf of Catholic personnel, The Archbishop said that the Iranian authorities he had met, including Khomeni, affirmed that the new constitution's guarantees on religious and cultural rights of minorities would be respected.

This implied a return to the situation, as it was before the revolutionary council nationalised schools in February. A committee had been formed, said Archbishop Capucci, to put the principles of minorities cultural and religious rights into practice.

Archbishop Capucci added that expulsion orders to priests or religious can only be issued hy One person. This person recognised that a replacement can be sent for each expulsion.

On Saturday an Italian Salesian, Father Alfredo Piechioni, arrived in Rome after expulsion from Teheran. A former headmaster of the Salesian's Ardishe College, he was an intermediary with the American prisoners in Teheran until recently.

Archbishop Capucci said that a Teheran magistrate has established that all political and moral charges made against priests and religious are without foundation.

Members of the late Shah's secret police Savak were accused of' being behind the defamation campaign against priests and religious "President Bani Sadr told me there was a plot to wreck Iran's rel:LlionS with the Vatican by in:ells:a ions against priests and religious. This would further isolate Iran and distort Islam's true nature. Muslims and Christians have always lived as members of one of the same family and expulsion of priests wrecks this reality made of charity, friendship, fraternity and CU llaboration".

He said that he would he returning to Ticheran because negotiations about the Catholic School's status were not yet concluded although he was very sanguine about their outcome.

It seems that he hopes to intervene in Rome in the case of the Iranian students arrested when trying to stage a demonstraton in St Peter's. Twenty two students were imprisoned for refusing to identify themselves and have staged a hunger strike. Twelve could be expelled aller a trial. as they are an embarrassment for Italy's relations with Iran as well as For the Vatican's.




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