Pope Francis Calls for Justice and Dialogue in Belarus After Violent Protests
An estimated 6,700 people were arrested in violent protests as demonstrators clashed with police forces, who used tear gas and rubber bullets.
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis offered a prayer for Belarus Sunday asking for respect for justice and dialogue following a week of violent clashes over the disputed presidential election.
“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,” Pope Francis said in his Angelus address Aug. 16.
Protests erupted in Minsk, the capital of Belarus, on Aug. 9 after the government’s electoral officials announced a landslide victory for Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled the country since 1994.
The European Union’s foreign minister Josep Borrell has said that the elections in Belarus were “neither free nor fair” and condemned the government’s repression and arrests of protesters.
An estimated 6,700 people were arrested in the protests in which demonstrators clashed with police forces, who used tear gas and rubber bullets. The United Nations condemned the police violence as violating international human rights standards.
Pope Francis said that he was praying for “dear Belarus” and continues to pray for Lebanon, as well as “other dramatic situations in the world that are causing people to suffer.”
In his Angelus reflection, the pope said that everyone can look to Jesus for healing, pointing to Sunday’s Gospel account of a Canaanite woman who called out to Jesus to heal her daughter.
“This is what this woman, this good mother teaches us: the courage to bring her own story of pain before God, before Jesus; touch the tenderness of God, the tenderness of Jesus,” he said.
“Each one of us has our own story ... Many times it is a difficult story, with a lot of pain, many misfortunes and many sins,” he said. “What do I do with my story? Do I hide it? No! We must bring it before the Lord.”
The pope recommended that each person think of his or her life story, including the “ugly things” in that story, and to bring it to Jesus in prayer.
“Let us go to Jesus, knock on Jesus’s heart and say to Him: ‘Lord, if You will it, you can heal me!’
He said that it is important to remember that Christ’s heart is full of compassion and that he bears our pains, sins, mistakes, and failures.
“This is why it is necessary to understand Jesus, to be familiar with Jesus,” he said. “I always go back to the advice that I give you: always carry a small pocket-size Gospel and read a passage every day. There you will find Jesus as He is, as He presents Himself; you will find Jesus who loves us, who loves us a lot, who tremendously wants our well-being.”
“Let us remember the prayer: ‘Lord, if You will it, you can heal me!’ A beautiful prayer. Carry the Gospel: in your purse, in your pocket and even on your mobile phone, to look at. May the Lord help us, all of us, to pray this beautiful prayer,” he said.