By Jim Fair

US Secretary Mike Pompeo on October 13, 2020, joined a growing chorus calling for Belarus to allow Archbishop of Minsk, Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, to return to the country.

“More than 40 days have passed since Belarusian authorities prevented a fellow citizen, Catholic Archbishop Kondrusiewicz, from re-entering the country, on the spurious notion that faith leaders should not publicly challenge injustices,” Secretary Pompeo said in a public statement. “Their action is itself an injustice and an affront to religious freedom. Faith is not merely a private endeavor. I urge the Belarusian government to right this wrong and allow the leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Belarus back into his country.”

The Archbishop of Minsk traveled to Poland for celebrations in honor of  Our Lady of Częstochowa at the end of August. He has been unable to return to Belarus because of a prohibition issued by the Belarusian authorities against the prelate.

In a statement, Archbishop Kondrusiewicz wrote that under the conditions of the current socio-political crisis in our homeland, “I continue to call for dialogue and reconciliation”. He added that his desire is that “the unjustified and illegal decision of the border service” not “aggravate the tension in our homeland”.

Regretting the impossibility of fulfilling his pastoral duties due to the ban, Archbishop Kondrusiewicz then addressed the faithful of his archdiocese, asking them to pray for his rapid return to Belarus and for the peaceful resolution of the serious socio-political crisis in the country.

The Pope sent Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, in mid-September to Belarus to meet with authorities in an attempt to resolve the situation, which continues.

Pope Francis turned his thoughts to Belarus when addressing the faithful gathered for his Sunday Angelus on August. 16. The Pope dwelt, in particular, on the political and social realities the country is currently facing, entrusting its people to the Virgin Mary.

Pope Francis called for “dialogue, the rejection of violence, respect for justice and rights” in Belarus as mass protests continued to take place.

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