A Catholic parish priest in Russia has been murdered, Bishop Clemens Pickel announced on Tuesday. Fr Krzysztof Niemyjski, 40, parish priest of Astrakhan, on the Volga delta, was killed on 29 November, the bishop who administers Southern Russia told Aid to the Church in Need. He said the police had informed the apostolic administration in Saratov about the murder on 8 December. The cause of death established by the doctor had been 'poisoning'. A murder investigation has now been launched. Investigations have also begun into the attempted murder of the deacon who had eaten lunch together with Fr Niemyjski. "This appalling murder brings home to us the challenges of bringing Christ's hope to people in Russia," said Neville Kyrke-Smith, UK director of Aid to the Church in Need. "The Catholic Church in Russia is reaching thousands of families who were of Catholic ethnic background, dispersed to and around the prison camps by Stalin and his successors. The economy and the law are in the control of the local mafia - usually the former KGB - in many towns and cities. Anyone who stands up and challenges this power is a target. "We will obviously wait to see what any investigation may reveal, but some investigations into the murders of priests have never been solved. "Fr Krzysztof's death is a reminder to us of why the Gospel of God's love needs preaching and proclaiming with more fervour than ever this Christmas. May he rest in peace."
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