Border Guards Stop Catholic Archbishop From Returning to Belarus

The archbishop of Minsk-Mohilev has spoken out in defense of protesters following a disputed presidential election Aug. 9, 2020.

Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz prays outside of the Akrestsin Street pre-trial detention center in Minsk, Belarus, Aug. 19.
Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz prays outside of the Akrestsin Street pre-trial detention center in Minsk, Belarus, Aug. 19. (photo: Catholic.by)

MINSK, Belarus — Border guards blocked a Catholic archbishop from returning to Belarus Monday. 

Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz of Minsk-Mohilev was attempting to enter Belarus from Poland when he was stopped by border guards, reported the website of the Catholic Church in Belarus Aug. 31.

Bishop Yuri Kasabutsky, an auxiliary bishop in Minsk-Mohilev archdiocese, said that Archbishop Kondrusiewicz was returning from a business trip when he sought to enter Belarus at the crossing between the Polish village of Kuźnica and the Belarusian village of Bruzgi.

“Border guards of the Republic of Belarus denied the head of the Belarusian Catholic episcopate entry to the country without explanation,” Bishop Kasabutsky said.

Archbishop Kondrusiewicz is a citizen of the Republic of Belarus who was born to an ethnic Polish family.

The archbishop of Minsk-Mohilev has spoken out in defense of protesters following a disputed presidential election Aug. 9. 

Last week he demanded an investigation into reports that riot police blocked the doors of a Catholic church in Minsk while clearing away protesters from a nearby square.

He prayed outside of a prison Aug. 19 where detained protesters were reported to have been tortured.

Belarus, a country of 9.5 million people bordering Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia, has seen widespread protests since the incumbent Alexander Lukashenko was declared the winner of the presidential election with 80% of the vote. 

Electoral officials said that the opposition candidate, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, earned 10% of the vote. She was detained for several hours after complaining to the electoral committee, and has fled to Lithuania. 

Police arrested thousands of demonstrators who took to the streets demanding a recount. Despite a severe crackdown, protests have continued across the country. 

Archbishop Kondrusiewicz met with Interior Minister Yuri Karaev Aug. 21 to express his concerns about the government’s heavy-handed response to the protests. 

Lukashenko has served as president of Belarus since the office was established in 1994, three years after the country declared independence from the Soviet Union.

Catholics are the second-largest religious community in Belarus after Orthodox Christians, comprising roughly 15% of the population.

Pope Francis appealed for justice and dialogue in Belarus in his Angelus address Aug. 16.

“I carefully follow the post-electoral situation in this country and appeal for dialogue, the rejection of violence and respect for justice and law. I entrust all Belarusians to the protection of Our Lady, Queen of Peace,” he said.

The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri, and the Mississippi River are seen from East St. Louis, Illinois, on June 27. Following the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision on June 24, abortion is now banned in Missouri. The nearest clinics to St. Louis are across the river in Illinois, including a Planned Parenthood in Fairview Heights that was opened in 2019 in anticipation of the overturn of Roe v. Wade.

Welcome to Post-Roe America

Every year on the anniversary of Dobbs, Catholics will be able to deepen their understanding of God’s role in the conception of every child, his care for the child’s growth, his knowing each by name, and the future for which he has given each child life.