Alexander Lukashenko said that if any public or religious organization tries to destroy the state, the authorities will respond. He also offered his mediation to French President Emmanuel Macron in the situation with Muslims. He stated this at a meeting with Metropolitan Veniamin of Minsk and Zaslavl, Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus.
“With all the events that have taken place and are happening, especially in Minsk, we manage to preserve this confessional peace. Of course, there were some mistakes both on the behalf of the authorities and on the behalf of our religious denominations.
But I want you and others to understand: if at least one organization in Belarus, be it public or religious, is aimed at destroying the state, of course, as the head of state, according to the Constitution, I am obliged to protect this state, this is my primary duty. Of course, I will have to react,” Lukashenko said.
He recalled the situation with Head of the Catholic Church in Belarus Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz and accused him of travelling to Poland where he was allegedly instructed on how to destroy Belarus. “Nobody will be allowed to go to Poland and receive advice on how to destroy our country,” Lukashenko added.
Recall that Metropolitan of Minsk and Mogilev Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz was not allowed into Belarus from Poland on 31 August without explanation. Later, Lukashenko commented on the situation, stating that the Catholic hierarch had left Belarus for consultations in Warsaw. In mid-September it became known: the formal reason was that the passport of the Catholic hierarch was declared invalid.
How can we now receive priests from Poland?
Lukashenko also said that it is necessary to train Catholic clergy in Belarus more intensively, so as not to invite them from abroad.
“We have built many churches, and sometimes we do not have enough clergy for them. And not only in [the Eastern Orthodox Churches – Ed.] But the Eastern Orthodox Church does not bring the clergy from abroad, from countries alien to us, as it happens with some faiths. And I spoke about it with the Pope of Rome (both the former and present). How can we now receive clergy from Poland, when the Polish state, purely Catholic, has taken such a stance in relation to Belarus? This is not normal,” he said.
In his opinion, Belarus should “train its Catholic clergy more intensively”. This issue, according to him, was was addressed to Pope Benedict XVI. “We will insist on this,” Lukashenko added.
Lukashenko offered his mediation to Macron
“I often say that almost 100% of Muslims supported the authorities and me as a president in all elections. We will never say what the President of France has recently stated about freedom of speech and religious feelings, you see, he has freedom of speech – but why would you bring a prophet into this? How the criticism of Muslims will help your country? Maybe he just needs mediation between him and the Muslims? I can help him with that, because I have very good relations with Muslims, for twenty years now,” Lukashenko said.
At the same time, he noted that it is categorically unacceptable to interfere with the feelings of believers.
“In particular with regard to the feelings of Muslims. We know how hot-tempered and reactive they are when you insult them. Do you think Macron doesn’t know about this? He knows,” Lukashenko said.
The Orthodox Church is the main bond of our state
“It is fashionable these days to say the church is separated from the state. From the first days of my presidency, I have said and repeat tirelessly: the Church, especially the Orthodox Church, is the main bond of our state, especially now, when the world has gone mad and lost spirituality. How can the church be separated from the state, that is to be outside the state? It can not. It is a pillar, one of the main pillars of the state, an ideological one, if you like,” said Alexander Lukashenko.
And until we have developed some kind of integral national idea of our ideology (patriotism comes first), the church has always been and will be the spiritual basis, if you like, the ideological basis of our state. I cannot imagine that our denominations, including the main one – Orthodox – are outside the state. And by thatt I mean, Your Grace, that you are not a stranger in the state. You are not somewhere out there – you are our statesman, like all others. And the state is always ready to lend you a shoulder.”
The Metropolitan said that the church cannot exist without the state too.