European Bishops have appealed for the “immediate” return of the Archbishop of Minsk to Belarus.
In a statement Thursday, the bishops of the Council of Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (CCEE) – a body made up of 39 bishops representing 45 countries on the continent – denounced that Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, who is also the President of the Belarusian Conference of Catholic Bishops, was “prevented from returning to his country” August 31 after a trip to Poland.
The archbishop has said he visited Poland for a relative’s First Communion.
The CCEE expressed the “closeness of the entire European Episcopate” to Kondrusiewicz and called for the prompt resumption of his episcopal ministry in his country.
On the situation more generally in Belarus – which has been rocked by non-stop protests and civil unrest since President Alexander Lukashenko won an unpredecented sixth-straight term in office with an apparent 80% of the vote in disputed August 9 elections – the European prelates urged citizens “to peacefully resolve the conflict and to pursue, with confidence, the path of dialogue for the good of man and of society as a whole”.
Kondrusiewicz has spoken out in defence of protests over last month’s election result and has appealed “for a peaceful solution for the situation… because I’m very much afraid of civil war”.
“The situation is very, very difficult, very critical”, the archbishop warned September 1.
The prelate has called the decision to deny him entry into his country “absolutely incomprehensible” and “unreasonable and illegal”.
In a September 2 statement his brother bishops in Belarus also described the situation as “inadmissible” and said they hoped the controversy around Kondrusiewicz’s attempted border crossing was only an “unfortunate misunderstanding” that can be “resolved as soon as possible”.
Kondrusiewicz has taken legal advice regarding the prohibition on his entering Belarus and denounced that “the problem lies not just in my exclusion, but also in the fact I’m now unable to attend my schedule of services — people are naturally asking how this could have happened”.
An appeal from the CCEE Presidency for Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz
Full text of the CCEE statement
Since this past 31 August, H. E. Monsignor Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, Archbishop of Minsk and President of the Belarusian Conference of Catholic Bishops, after returning from a journey to Poland where he participated in celebrations in honour of Our Lady of Częstochowa, has been prevented from returning to his country.
The CCEE Presidency expresses the closeness of the entire European Episcopate to Monsignor Kondrusiewicz and to the Church in Belarus in this delicate matter and makes their own the appeal of Pope Francis “to dialogue, the rejection of violence and respect for justice and law”.
And, together with the Pope, entrust “all Belarusians to the protection of Our Lady, Queen of Peace”.
While ensuring their own prayers for the beloved pastor and for the whole Belarusian community, they hope for an immediate return home for the Archbishop of Minsk and a resumption of his episcopal ministry.
They encourage everyone to commit themselves to peacefully resolve the conflict and to pursue, with confidence, the path of dialogue for the good of man and of society as a whole.
Saint Gallen, 3 September 2020