Belarus is going through a serious political crisis with unpredictable consequences after the current president Alexander Lukashenko, in power for 26 years, claimed victory in the last elections, on 9 August, considered by the opposition to be fraudulent.
The challenge to Lukashenko, who seeks to carry out a sixth term at the head of the country’s destinies, has mobilized thousands of people who demand not only his departure from power but also the realization of a new electoral act, an end to police violence against demonstrators and the release of political prisoners.
The Church itself has not escaped this crisis. On August 31, the Archbishop of Minsk, Tadeusz Kondrusievicz, who had publicly criticized police violence against demonstrators, was held “without explanation” at the border with Poland, a country he had visited for a meeting.
The crisis in Belarus has meanwhile crossed the country’s borders and is being followed with concern at an international level. Pope Francis, for example, has already called for dialogue and the rejection of violence and respect for justice and law, a position that was also underlined by the Council of Episcopal Conferences of Europe, CCEE.
In a statement published on Thursday, 3rd September, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, president of CCEE, defended the primacy of dialogue, calling for the return of the Archbishop of Minsk to his country.
In fact, the Church has sought to prevent Belarus from being held hostage to violence. Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz himself, who is also president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Belarus, launched an appeal to prayer for a peaceful solution to this situation that is paralyzing the country.
Classifying the crisis as “unprecedented”, which “worsens from day to day”, the Archbishop of Minsk announced a pilgrimage for this month of September of an image of Saint Michael the Archangel in four cathedral churches.
In a letter read to the faithful, he says that Belarus is experiencing an “alarming” economic situation with the threat of “international isolation”.
In the letter, quoted by Vatican News , the archbishop recalls that “it was only in the early 90s of the last century” that the country “obtained freedom”, which can be considered as “a great gift” and, at the same time, “a great task ”.
In the message, the prelate also alludes to the “difficulties” caused by the totalitarian atheist regime and warns that recent events demonstrate that Belarusians do not know what true freedom is.
Magda Kaczmarek, ACN’s Head of section for Belarus, highlighted the importance of this message recalling that “there will be no truth where violence triumphs”, having asked “all benefactors” of Aid to the Church in Need “to pray for peace and against hatred ”.