The Archbishop of Minsk-Mogilev gives some interviews and speaks of the crisis in his country and his priestly experience. The Belarusian people are peaceful, but they want changes. President Lukashenko was surprised by the turn of events. In forced exile in Poland, the prelate hopes to be able to return to his homeland: I feel the moral support of the Vatican authorities. The Orthodox Bishop of Grodno to the authorities: Stop, you do not act according to the Gospel!
Moscow (AsiaNews) - The Metropolitan Archbishop of Minsk-Mogilev, Msgr. Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, head of the Catholic Church in forced exile in Poland, gave several interviews to comment on his situation.
Abp. Kondrusiewicz spoke on Radio Svoboda with Father Jakov Krotov, a famous Russian publicist and priest of the Eastern Catholic rite. He retraced the stages of his priestly and episcopal mission, recalling his childhood in the village near Grodno, on the Belarusian border with Poland, where he was stopped by border guards on 31 August. "All the inhabitants of my village were Catholics, and even if there was no priest, we were educated in the Catholic faith by our families. They kicked me out of university because a Catholic cannot become a teacher, then I managed to graduate in engineering in Leningrad ", said the prelate.
The young Belarusian student attended the only Catholic church open in the northern capital, that of Our Lady of Lourdes. Sent to Lithuania for work, Kondrusiewicz managed to enter the Catholic seminary of Kaunas, when the priests in his country had almost disappeared. Back home, he served the Church with great difficulty, until he was appointed bishop by John Paul II.
The metropolitan archbishop expressed his gratitude to Lithuania, "where the Polish spirit and that of the Baltic countries were united, and prayers were also prayed in Russian. It is a motherland for the faith of all ... I speak Belarusian, Polish, Russian and Lithuanian, but when they ask me what nationality I am, I always replied: 'I am a Christian' ".
Belarus is a borderland, and Kondrusiewicz considers the coexistence of various religions as one of the most characteristic features of his people: "Over 60% of the families here are mixed marriages, especially between Catholics and Orthodox, but we also have excellent relations with Protestants, Jews and Muslims. When the protests broke out in Belarus, we started reciting the Our Father every day on the internet at 6 pm, and we were joined by many non-Catholics, all over Europe. The privileged place for our joint prayer was the 'red church' of Saints Simon and Helen "(photo 2), the very church where police have been cracking down on in recent days; 'We invited everyone there, and they came! The church was full every day". Moreover, even in Russia the archbishop has always sought loving coexistence with the Orthodox and all the others.
The Belarusian people, as Father Krotov recalls, are considered more peaceful than all their neighbors, and even in the demonstrations of these days we note the lack of aggression of the participants: "It is truly our characteristic, in Belarusian we are called the 'measured '(pomerkovnye), and even if blood has been shed, we want everything to take place in peace and in the desire for good, it is our Christian education that imposes it on us ", explains the metropolitan, recalling St. John Paul II, who in 2000, on the jubilee of Christianity, invited everyone to mutual forgiveness.
With regard to the protests of recent days, Msgr. Kondrusiewicz notes that "the atmosphere has been growing quite intense for some years now. Now a different generation is emerging compared to 25-30 years ago, and you can see how the students are expressing themselves these days at the opening of the schools, I see it from the internet even though I can't be in Minsk. The kids want something new, they are always on the web, they travel abroad, have many friends and speak many languages, their reactions don't surprise me ". Young Belarusian Catholics, the prelate stressed, participated with great enthusiasm in the World Youth Days, and the rebirth of faith in ex-Soviet land is today entrusted to them.
The Archbishop, among other things, spoke of his personal relations with Lukashenko, recalling that he seemed in favor of dialogue between religions, but even the strong man of Minsk was surprised by the turn of events: "Nobody could have imagined all of this one year ago. It is not easy to change, obviously”. The metropolitan hopes that the Belarusian authorities will review the decision to ban him from entering the country, "but I'm almost 75 years old, I will soon present my letter of resignation to the pope. I'm sorry I'm not with my people, but I won't do anything to stir things up. Some reportedly go around waving my photo, but I say to them: 'Forget me, go and pray' ".
Archbishop Kondrusiewicz confirmed in all the interviews that he has only one passport, the Belarusian one, and that he is confident in Vatican diplomacy, "even if in fact we are without a nuncio, the new one has not yet arrived". From Rome so far there have been no pronouncements on the case of the exiled archbishop, even though he feels all the "moral support" of the Vatican authorities.
The Orthodox bishop of Grodno, Artemij Kishenko (photo 3) released a letter to the Belarusian authorities, launching an appeal for repentance: “Stop! You are not acting according to the Gospel, you have raised your hands to Christ ... As the Metropolitan-martyr Philipp Philipp said to Ivan the Terrible, you are bloodthirsty!”.