Belarus archbishop blocked at border; warns of civil war

Border guards blocked a Belarus archbishop from re-entering his country this week.

On Monday Catholic Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz of Minsk-Mohilev was attempting to enter Belarus from Poland.

Although the border guards “behaved very correctly,” their decision to refuse him entry to his homeland was “absolutely incomprehensible” and contravened the law, Kondrusiewicz says.

“No explanation was offered. Even though I’m a citizen of Belarus I was told I was banned from entering Belarus, nothing more.”

Bishop Yuri Kasabutsky from the Minsk-Mohilev archdiocese, says Kondrusiewicz was returning from a business trip.

A pastoral letter Kondrusiewicz had written warning people that the nation’s worsening crisis could spill into civil war had been read out in churches the day before he was barred from re-entrering Belarus.

In it, the archbishop said society was “spiritually ill” in Belarus.

The Belarus archbishop also said he had arranged for a statue of St. Michael the Archangel to be carried through the church’s four dioceses in a bid to settle current conflicts.

“Our motherland is experiencing an unprecedented sociopolitical crisis, deepening day by day — in peace-loving and tolerant Belarus, brother has raised his hand against brother, resulting in bloodshed and many injuries.”

“The difficult economic situation is deeply alarming, and we are threatened with international isolation, while the schism of society increases. … Increasingly, one can hear that the threat of civil war is becoming real, something none of us imagined a few months ago.”

For more than two weeks, Belarusian security forces have been confronting demonstrators protesting over the 26-year rule of President Alexander Lukashenko, who claimed to win a disputed presidential election on 9 August.

Kondrusiewicz has spoken in defense of the protesters following the disputed presidential election.

On 19 August he prayed outside of a prison where the detained protesters were reported to have been tortured.

Last week – although he was out of the country at the time – he demanded an investigation into reports that riot police blocked the doors of a Catholic church in Minsk while clearing away protesters from a nearby square.

The incident at the church occurred on 26 August after police had dispersed protesters in a nearby square, about 100 of them took refuge in the church to escape.

Police blockaded the entrances for several hours and eventually arrested several people who left the church.

“Blocking the entry and exit of people contradicts the right of citizens for freedom of conscience and religion guaranteed by the Belarus Constitution. Moreover, it insults the feelings of believers and goes beyond the laws of mankind and God,” Kondrusiewicz’s auxiliary bishops said at the time.

Pope Francis appealed for justice and dialogue in Belarus in his Angelus address on 10 August.

“I carefully follow the post-electoral situation in this country and appeal for dialogue, the rejection of violence and respect for justice and law. I entrust all Belarusians to the protection of Our Lady, Queen of Peace,” he said.


Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , , , ,