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Bulgaria denies entry to founder of Unification Church, citing presence as "undesirable"


(RNS) - Bulgaria barred Sun Myung Moon, founder and leader of the Unification Church, from entering the country for a lecture on world peace and a "symbolic" wedding of a group of couples.

"The Ministry of the Interior finds the presence of Sun Myung Moon in Bulgaria undesirable," the government said in a Oct. 26 news release, according to Ecumenical News International, the Geneva-based religious news agency.

A private meeting of members of the Unification Church at a Sofia hotel went on without Moon, according to Bulgarian media reports.

Reports that Moon was to visit Bulgaria set off a flurry of protests from both Christian groups and one of the country's nationalist political parties.

Bulgaria's religion law requires all religious groups, with the exception of the officially recognized Bulgarian Orthodox Church, to apply for court registration before being allowed to operate. The Unification Church was denied permission to register in 1992 and 1994, according to ENI.