Pope Francis is concerned about the current situation in Belarus. The Director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni told journalists. He also confirmed that Claudio Gugerotti who worked as Apostolic Nuncio to Belarus in 2011-2015 would meet Alexander Lukashenko.
“I can confirm that this morning at 9.30 am (Roman time), the Monsignor, the former Apostolic Nuncio to Belarus, will meet as a special envoy of the Holy Father with the President of the Republic of Belarus, Mr. Alexander Lukashenko, to express the concern of the Holy Father about the current situation in the country,” Bruni told reporters.
The press service of Alexander Lukashenko reported that Lukashenko described Claudio Gujerotti’s arrival in Minsk as a good sign. “We have things to discuss, we always had a lot of topics. Many issues remain unresolved, they cannot be solved immediately. But we’ve made some progress,” said Lukashenko.
At the meeting with the archbishop, he also added: “I am very happy that His Holiness Pope Francis sent you to Belarus. It’s a pleasure for me to have a meeting with you. I have good impressions from the meetings, talks and conversations that we had when you served here. I’ve always said that Pope Francis, in my opinion, is a people’s person.”
Besides, he asked Claudio Gugerotti to covey his wishes of a Happy New Year and strong health to Pope Francis.
Recall that Archbishop Tadeush Kondrusevich, the head of the Catholic Church of Belarus, was not allowed to come back home for several months. Lukashenko several times accused Kondrusevich that he went to Poland “for consultations on how to destroy our country.”
Claims were also made against Minsk Bishop Yuri Kosobutsky who condemned actions of security forces who blocked entrances to the Red Church with about a hundred people inside, including journalists, parishioners and peaceful protesters, during a rally nearby.
“Blocking the entry and exit of people contradicts the constitutionally guaranteed right of citizens to freedom of conscience and religion, offends the feelings of believers and goes beyond the laws of man and God,” the bishop said then.
After his statements to the security forces, Kosobutsky received an official warning from the prosecutor’s office. A few months later priests from the town of Rossony Vyacheslav Barok and Greek Catholic priest Vitaly Bystrov received 10 days of administrative arrest.
“We see an intensification of repression against the Catholic Church in our country,” Bishop Kosobutsky commented on their arrests on his Facebook page.