09/03/2020, 11.12
BELARUS - RUSSIA
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Belarusian Catholics in solidarity with 'exiled' Msgr. Kondrusiewicz

by Vladimir Rozanskij

Still no official explanation for the refusal to grant re-entry to the Archbishop of Minsk. Bishop Kosobutskij: The bishops have the right and the duty not to remain indifferent to what is happening in society. The government did not invite Catholic representatives to the Interreligious Consultative Council: "It is a new form of persecution". The protests on the 25th day. The similarities with Solidarność.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - Belarusian Catholics express their anxiety and expectation after the refusal of the customs authorities to allow Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz to return home. The vicar general of the archdiocese of Minsk, Msgr. Jurij Kosobutskij (photo 4), gave an interview to the catholic.by site, in which he expresses great perplexity at a "complicated and incomprehensible" situation. So far, no official explanation has been given for the refusal.

Metropolitan Kondrusiewicz sent a message to the faithful from Bialystok, where he is currently staying. He invites everyone to join in prayer for the solution of this unfortunate situation, and in general for the peaceful solution of the country's social and political crisis. He does not want his "exile" in Poland to worsen the atmosphere in Belarus in any way. Kondrusiewicz stresses that all his interventions were absolutely sincere and transparent, and therefore there is no reason to suspect his participation in plots against the state.

Kosobutsky also stresses that "all members of the Catholic Church, first and foremost the bishops, have the right and duty not to remain indifferent to what is happening in society", and it is not a question of meddling in politics: the head of the local Catholic Church it did not support any candidate, but only made an appeal to honesty, dialogue and an end to violence, that is, to moral principles and principles of common interest.

According to the vicar general, "Lukashenko was misinformed, and besides he himself admits that he does not have enough information". Like any bishop, Kondrusiewicz can go to Rome to receive assignments and commitments from the Pope, certainly not from other authorities in Warsaw, Moscow or other countries. The archbishop’s end-of-August calendar was full of celebrations in Belarus, visiting the parishes, and other important pastoral visits on his return from Poland were already scheduled. Furthermore, the diocese specifies that “Msgr. Kondrusiewicz is in possession of only Belarusian nationality”. Lukashenko had spread the fake news that the prelate had passports of different nationalities, almost as if he were a spy.

It is clear, continues Kosobutsky, that “pressure is being put on the Catholic Church in Belarus, and this is a form of persecution of the Church, even if no one wants to openly talk about it; we are well aware of the persecution we suffered throughout the Soviet period”.

It is worth remembering that the Soviet leaders, in particular Nikita Khruščev, had chosen Belarus as the country in which to completely erase religion, "showing the last priest on television". Msgr. Kosobutsky notes that on August 31 a meeting of the Interfaith Advisory Council was called to the government, but Catholics were not even invited, despite representing the second largest confession in the country. In his opinion, the non-invitation depends on the fact that "we always have something to respond to the unfounded requests of the authorities".

An obvious case of persecution is that of the "red church" blocked by the Omon in recent days, and which for months has been in difficulty due to unusual tax claims imposed for its use. However, Kosobutsky recalls that “difficulties do not divide us, rather they unite us. For example, a group of Orthodox women came yesterday to pray with us in the cathedral for peace and harmony, and for a quick return to the homeland of the leader of Belarusian Catholics, and we are very grateful to them”.

The US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, expressed his support for Metropolitan Kondrusiewicz and Belarusian Catholics: "The Belarusian authorities - wrote Pompeo on Twitter - must allow the archbishop to return so that he can take care of his flock in these days of protests. He and the entire Belarusian people must have the opportunity to enjoy their fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of religious confession".

Meanwhile, the protests in Belarus continue for the 25th day, in particular the peaceful women's march (photo 2; see https://interfax.by/news/policy/mnenie/1282335/ ), and the strikes in many businesses (photo 1), especially those of students and miners. They recall the Polish Solidarity strikes of the 1980s, which led to the fall of the communist regime, and which also had a strong echo in Belarus.

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