Belarus has ambivalent relations with Catholics


Interfax-Religiia, 11 September 2020


The Belorussian minister of foreign affairs, Vladimir Makei, at a meeting on Friday with a secretary of the Holy See's Secretariat of State, Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, confirmed an invitation to Roman Pope Francis to visit the country.


"I would like to convey to Pope Francis that the invitation to visit Belarus remains in force," Makei said.


He recalled that Belorussian President Alexander Lukashenko twice made an official visit to the Vatican and met with the pontiffs Benedict and Francis.


Makei noted that he considers the visit of a representative of the Vatican Secretariat of State as "confirmation of the existence of special relations, mutual understanding, and trust between Belarus and the Holy See." "We are pleased with the dynamic of the development of contacts at the supreme and at high levels between Belarus and the Vatican in recent times," the minister added.


Archbishop Gallagher's working visit to Belorussia will continue through 14 September. The press service of the MVD announced only his meeting with Makei.


As reported, on 31 August, Metropolitan of Minsk and Mogilev, the chairman of the Conference of Catholic Bishops in Belorussia, Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, was refused entry into the country without explanation of the reasons. He was returning from Poland where he had been on a business trip.


"At the Kuznitsa-Belostok-Bruzgi border crossing, border officers of the republic of Belarus refused entry into the country to the head of the Belorussian Catholic episcopate, without explanation of the reasons," a statement on the official website of the Roman Catholic Church in Belorussia says. It called attention to the fact that Kondrusiewicz is a citizen of the republic.


Along with this, the official website of the Roman Catholic Church posted an excerpt from an interview of Kondrusiewicz with the Polish Catholic television channel TV Trwam in which the head of Belorussian Catholics declared that the presidential elections in the country on 9 August were dishonest.


On 1 September, President Alexander Lukashenko declared that Kondrusiewicz was not allowed into the country because "he received an assignment on the Polish side." (tr. by PDS, posted 11 September 2020)

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