Moscow: As Moscow prepares to unveil a bronze monument of Mother Teresa, city authorities here have demolished a shelter owned by her Catholic order, citing lack of permits for the building.

The two buildings in Eastern Moscow which served as a shelter for the homeless and disabled attracted City Hall's attention three years ago when the local authorities approached court to force Missionaries of Charity to demolish one of the buildings and remove the top floor of the other.

Missionaries of Charity is a Catholic religious organisation founded by Mother Teresa.

Though Russian Orthodox Church officials, including Patriarch Kirill, tried to resolve the conflict, one of the buildings was destroyed on Friday.

“The demolished building was constructed with voluntary donations from people all over the world, and its destruction is a sign of blindness to human grief and contempt for those who help the poorest,” Missionaries of Charity said in a statement published by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Moscow.

“Everybody knows how hard the sisters have worked for the past 20 years. Did their work bother anyone?” said Pavel Pezzi, Metropolitan Archbishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Moscow.

City Hall authorities refused to comment.

The demolition of the shelter coincides with the September 24 unveiling of a bronze statue of Mother Teresa near Moscow's Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

Mother Teresa, who was beatified soon after her death in 1997, founded the Missionaries of Charity in 1950 to take care of the disabled, the elderly, alcoholics, the poor, and the homeless.

The Moscow branch, which was opened in 1990 and consists of nuns from all over the world, deals not only with abandoned children and the terminally ill but also serves as a meeting place for recovering alcoholics.

(Agencies)