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Uzbekistan on the Rebound
VATICAN CITY, MAY 24, 2005 (Zenit.org).- The Catholics of Uzbekistan, whose Church is rebounding after long years of Communist persecution, have a new bishop.

He is 50-year-old Jerzy Maculewicz, former assistant general of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual for Eastern Europe, who was ordained May 14 by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state, in the Basilica of the Holy Apostles of Rome.

Last March 22, Pope John Paul II had established the mission of Uzbekistan as an apostolic administration.

The mission was entrusted to the Order of Friars Minor Conventual, which has 13 friars working among 4,000 Catholics in six parishes. The women Missionaries of Charity make up the only other religious congregation working in the area.

The symbol of Catholicism's rebirth in the country is the Church of the Sacred Heart in Tashkent, capital of the former Soviet republic.

Construction began on the church in 1912, but after the 1917 October Revolution, it was expropriated by the Soviet atheist regime.

It was returned to the Catholic Church in 1991. Restoration works were concluded for the Jubilee Year 2000.