Head of the Catholic Church in Belarus Tadeush Kondrusevich returned home after four months of exile. In the evening, he will hold a Christmas Eve service at the main Catholic church in the country. The website catholic.by published an address of the metropolitan with gratitude to those who helped him to come back to Belarus. Among them are Pope Francis and his special envoy Claudio Gugerotti, who met with Alexander Lukashenko last week.
The head of the Catholics in Belarus returned to Minsk in the afternoon of 24 December. After his return, he went to the Apostolic Nunciature in Minsk to thank Pope Francis and his representative in Belarus Apostolic Nuncio Ante Jozic for facilitating his return.
This is what Tadeush Kondrusevich said in the address, which was published on the website catholic.by.
“How unsearchable are God’s judgments and how inscrutable his ways! Dear brothers and sisters! These words of St. Paul the Apostle come to mind when, after almost four months of forced absence and inability to carry out pastoral work in Belarus, I am finally back home. At the age of almost 75, I suddenly found myself in a difficult situation, which I perceive as another experience of God’s Providence and as my life’s cross.”
He noted that “the world is not without good people” and expressed deep gratitude to those who supported him and prayed for a speedy return home.
“First of all, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Holy Father Pope Francis and the Secretariat of State of the Holy See. The Pope and his closest associates, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Archbishops Paul Richard Gallagher and Antonio Menini, as well as the Apostolic Nuncio to Belarus, Archbishop Ante Jozic, and the Pope’s Special Envoy, Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, who have made a great effort for a positive solution to the problem of my return to Belarus from Poland.”
He also thanked the Belarusian bishops and believers, statesmen and public figures from around the world, as well as the state bodies of Belarus. The Archbishop also wished the faithful a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Four months of exile
Head of the Catholic Church in Belarus Tadeush Kondrusevich could not return to Belarus for about four months. Lukashenko has repeatedly accused him of visiting Poland “for consultations on how to destroy our country.”
On 31 August, Archbishop Kondrusevich, who is a citizen of Belarus, was denied entry to the country. Border security guards stopped him at the Polish border without explanation. Subsequently, the Ministry of Internal Affairs declared Kondrusevich’s passport invalid.
In exile, the Metropolitan of Minsk and Mogilev lived in the parish of St. Anthony in Sokolka, Poland, which is located about 15 km from the Belarusian border. Archbishop Kondrusevich was in charge of the church in Belarus remotely.
On 11 December, it became known that he had written a letter of resignation. On 17 December, Alexander Lukashenko met with the special envoy of Pope Francis, Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, to discuss the issue of Tadeush Kondrusevich’s return to the country.
On 22 December, Apostolic Nuncio in Belarus Ante Jozich said: according to the information of the state authorities, Archbishop Tadeush Kondrusevich faces no obstacles to returning to the country. Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei also said that the corresponding order – to find a solution taking into account all the existing legal mechanisms – was given by Alexander Lukashenko.