Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, according to a statement from the Holy See Press Office released on Friday evening, has arrived in Minsk “to show the attention and closeness of the Holy Father to the Catholic Church and the whole country”.
Belarus has seen weeks of tension as opposition parties contest and question President Lukashenko’s victory in recent elections.
Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, is due to meet with civil authorities and those responsible for the Catholic Church, according to the report published by Vatican News.
Pope Francis turned his thoughts to Belarus when addressing the faithful gathered for his Sunday Angelus on 16 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.
The following August 18, as the situation in the country became increasingly complicated, the Executive Committee of Justice and Peace Europe invited all Christians to unite in the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer for the Belarusian people, so that truth, justice and peace may prevail.
Meanwhile, demonstrations continue and on Sunday thousands of people are expected to take to the streets of Minsk again. This march, the opposition leaders say, will be dedicated to Maria Kolesnikova, the protest leader who was recently arrested.
On Monday, President Lukashenko is planning to travel to Sochi, Russia, to meet with Russian President, Vladimir Putin.
It is unlikely that Archbishop Gallagher will be able to meet the Archbishop of Minsk, Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz. 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.