Border guards stop Catholic archbishop from returning to Belarus
Border guards blocked a Catholic archbishop from returning to Belarus Monday.
Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz of Minsk-Mohilev was attemptingto enterBelarus from Poland when he was stopped by border guards,reportedthe website of the Catholic Church in Belarus Aug. 31.
Bishop Yuri Kasabutsky, an auxiliary bishop in Minsk-Mohilev archdiocese, said that Kondrusiewicz was returning from a business trip when he sought toenter Belarus at the crossing between the Polish village of Ku?nica and the Belarusian village of Bruzgi.
“Border guards of the Republic of Belarus denied the head of the Belarusian Catholic episcopate entry to the country without explanation,” Kasabutsky said.
Kondrusiewicz is a citizen of the Republic of Belarus who was born to an ethnic Polish family.
The archbishop of Minsk-Mohilev has spoken out in defense of protesters following a disputed presidential election Aug. 9.
Last week hedemanded an investigationinto reports that riot police blocked the doors of a Catholic church in Minsk while clearing away protesters from a nearby square.
Heprayed outside of a prisonAug. 19 where detained protesters were reported to have been tortured.
Belarus, a country of 9.5 million people bordering Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia, has seen widespread protests since the incumbent Alexander Lukashenko was declared the winner of the presidential election with 80% of the vote.
Electoral officials said that the opposition candidate, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, earned 10% of the vote. She was detained for several hours after complaining to the electoral committee, and has fled to Lithuania.
Police arrested thousands of demonstrators who took to the streets demanding a recount. Despite a severe crackdown, protests have continued across the country.
Kondrusiewicz met with Interior Minister Yuri Karaev Aug. 21 to express his concerns about the government’s heavy-handed response to the protests.
Lukashenko has served as president of Belarus since the office was established in 1994, three years after the country declared independence from the Soviet Union.
Catholics are the second-largest religious community in Belarus after Orthodox Christians, comprising roughly 15% of the population.?
Pope Francisappealed for justice and dialoguein Belarus in his Angelus address Aug. 16.
“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.
In astatementissued later on Monday, Kasabutsky urged Belarusian Catholics to pray for Kondrusiewicz.
He asked priests to celebrate Masses for Belarus, the Church and the archbishop. He invited lay people to attend the Masses and to take part in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, as well as to saythe rosary and the chaplet of Divine Mercy.
“At a difficult time for all of us, let us mobilize in prayer, as well as show special solidarity and support each other in every situation, because we are one big family,”he said.