U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday urged the government of Belarus to allow Catholic Church Head Tadeush Kondrusevich come back home.
“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,” said Pompeo in a statement released on 13 October.
The Secretary of State also described the rufusal of the authorities to allow the archbishop into Belarus as “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 statement reads.
In September, Pompeo has already made a similar appeal to Minsk, to no avail. Recall that Archbishop Kondrusevich, who is a citizen of Belarus, was denied entry to the country on 31 August. Border security guards stopped him at the Polish border without explanation.
Meanwhile, the official website of the Roman Catholic Church in Belarus published excerpts from Kondrusevich’s interview to the Polish Catholic TV channel, in which the head of the Belarusian Catholics said that the presidential election in the country on 9 August was “dishonest.”
In September, Alexander Lukashenko said that the head of the Belarusian Catholic Church was not allowed to enter Belarus from Poland because “the archbishop might be a citizen of more than one country” and accused him of receiving “some instructions from Warsaw”.
“According to a Belarusian law, a citizen of Belarus has a right to travel, has a right to leave the country and to come back. About leaving, it’s written they can stop you sometimes, but to come back is a right without any restrictions. So I don’t know what happened,”Archbishop Kondrusiewicz told CNA.