Barred from re-entry into Belarus, archbishop calls for prayer

ARCHBISHOP TADEUSZ KONDRUSIEVICZ of Minsk, Belarus has been refused re-entry into Belarus and unknown persons have changed the locks of a Catholic church in Minsk.

As reported in an official communiqué issued by the Vicar General of Minsk, Bishop Juryj Kasabucki, Archbishop Kondrusievicz was refused re-entry into Belarus Aug. 31. The statement went on to explain that the archbishop, who has Belarus citizenship, was stopped by border guards at the Kuznica Bialostocka-Bruzgi border crossing and turned away “without explanation” when he attempted to return from a business trip to Poland.

Archbishop Kondrusiewicz
Archbishop Kondrusiewicz

Magda Kaczmarek, Aid to the Church in Need’s (ACN) head of projects in Belarus, explained, “We have to remember that the archbishop is 74 years old and no longer in the best of health. This kind of treatment could certainly have a negative effect on his health.”

According to the internet portal of the local Church in Belarus, unknown persons changed the locks to the offices of the parish of St. Simon and St. Helen in Minsk without giving the priest and his staff prior warning. It was further reported that on Aug. 23 the electricity supply to the parish buildings was cut off and on Aug. 26 the entrance to the church was blocked by security officials.

In August, Archbishop Kondrusievicz publicly criticized police violence against peaceful demonstrators.

ACN is planning to participate in the call for prayer issued by the archbishop who is the Catholic Metropolitan of Minsk-Mohilev and chairman of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Belarus. In a pastoral letter the archbishop asked priests, religious, lay people and “all people of good will” to pray for a solution to the socio-political crisis which he calls “unparalleled.” He wrote: “In this country, which is seen as peaceful and moderate in the eyes of the world, one brother has raised his hand against another brother [and] blood was shed.” The archbishop stressed the “primacy of love” and called for “forgiveness and mercy.”

He announced that prayers for intercession, specifically to the archangel Michael, the patron saint of the country, would be said in September in all churches across the country “to stop the conflict from deteriorating further and to find a solution as quickly as possible.” A statue of St. Michael the Archangel will be taken to all four Catholic cathedrals in the country.

—Eva-Maria Kollman