09/17/2020, 08.48
BELARUS - VATICAN - RUSSIA
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The Pope would like to visit Belarus. Meanwhile, the new nuncio arrives

by Vladimir Rozanskij

Secretary of State Card. Parolin confirms the Pope is considering a visit. The Belarusian foreign minister, Vladimir Makeev, also invited the pontiff a few days ago. The ordination of the new nuncio Ante Jozic and his dispatch to Minsk, read as a Vatican recognition of the legitimacy of Lukashenko's presidential election. Kolesnikova accused of threatening national security.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - According to the official website of the Catholic Church in Belarus, the Vatican Secretary of State, Card. Pietro Parolin claims that Pope Francis is considering the possibility of visiting Belarus. "I think this is one of the visits the pope is considering," the cardinal said. And he stressed that "Belarus has always shown a great deal of interest in a visit from the pope", but "these plans have not materialized", and today the coronavirus pandemic has blocked everything for an indefinite period.

Even the Belarusian foreign minister, Vladimir Makeev, meeting Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, confirmed the invitation to the Pope to visit the Republic of Belarus. The minister even said that "we are satisfied with the dynamic development of relations at the highest level and at other levels between Belarus and the Vatican in recent times".

He did not mention the question of refusing entry to the Archbishop of Minsk, Msgr. Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz. According to some commentators, Gallagher would have discussed the possibility of appointing a new archbishop, more pleasing to the authorities. Makeev also recognized the historical role of the Catholic Church in the constitution of the Belarusian state.

Together with the other Belarusian bishops, Metropolitan Kondrusiewicz himself had repeatedly invited the pope to visit the country. The pope's trips are also suspended until 2022, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, on September 16, Card. Parolin consecrated the new nuncio to Belarus, Msgr. Ante Jozic (see photo). The ceremony took place in the Croatian city of Trilj, in the diocese of Split, the birthplace of the new nuncio. The appointment was published in May 2019, but the consecration had been postponed due to a car accident suffered by the new nuncio. Now recovered, he is ready to go to Minsk, precisely at the moment of maximum tension in the country. His arrival in the Belarusian capital can somehow be considered a Vatican recognition of the legitimacy of Lukashenko's presidential election.

Msgr. Jozic has a long experience in relations with the communist authorities, having been in the study mission in Hong Kong for several years. The study mission acts in some way as a pseudo-nunciature to China.

Inside the country, shaken by weeks of demonstrations, arrests and forced exiles, one of the opposition organizers, Maria Kolesnikova, was accused of inciting to undermine national security. Kolesnikova was kidnapped by security forces in an attempt to expel her from the country, but she tore her passport to shreds so as not to be extradited.

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