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The position of the church in the Belarusian protests
The position of the church in the Belarusian protests
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Representatives of various religious denominations in Belarus, primarily Orthodox and Catholics, do not remain aloof from what is happening. Do they support the protests and how does Lukashenka react to this?

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Peaceful protest at the Red Church in Minsk

The Church of St. Simeon and St. Helena (or the Red Church) is one of the architectural monuments and spiritual symbols of Minsk. At the beginning of the twentieth century, an inconsolable father erected this temple in memory of his deceased children. Since August 9, after the presidential elections in the country, protests against Alexander Lukashenko have been taking place almost every day near the building of this Catholic church, which is located on Independence Square.

Joint prayer in the Red Church

Against the background of violent clashes between security officials and demonstrators and mass arrests, a joint prayer for peace of representatives of various Christian denominations, Jews and Muslims took place in the Red Church.

In total, there are 25 religious denominations in Belarus. About 80 percent of believers identify themselves as Orthodox, 15 percent consider themselves Catholics. During the joint prayer, the believers spoke for a dialogue between society and the authorities, condemned the violence and called for peace.

But their appeal was not heard by the authorities - on August 27, a peaceful rally near the walls of the Church of St. Simeon and St. Helena ended with mass arrests. And on the eve, during the dispersal of the protesters, the security forces blocked the entrance and exit from the church - several dozen people were locked up in the church.

The vicar general of the Minsk-Mogilev archdiocese, Bishop Yuri Kasabutsky, declared the inadmissibility and illegality of such actions after this incident: God ".

The same point of view is shared by the Metropolitan of Minsk-Mogilev, Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz: "These and similar actions of law enforcement officers do not help to ease tensions for the sake of an early restoration of peace and harmony in the Belarusian society, while the Catholic Church calls for reconciliation and dialogue."

What do Catholics think about protests in Belarus

Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz has repeatedly called for an end to violence and invited the parties to the conflict to sit down at the negotiating table. On August 19, Kondrusevich prayed outside the walls of the detention center on Akrestsin Street in Minsk, where, according to human rights activists, the detainees were treated especially cruelly.

He also met with the Minister of Internal Affairs of Belarus Yury Karaev. During this meeting, the archbishop expressed concern about the difficult socio-political situation in the country and the actions of law enforcement agencies. Karayev said that he did not give an order to the security forces to use violence against the demonstrators and sympathizes with the victims.

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Protesters gathered at the building of the Red Church in Minsk

“What is happening in Belarus today worries the Holy See. The Pope called for justice, peace, solution of emerging issues through dialogue and search for mutual understanding,” Yuri Sanko, press secretary of the Conference of Catholic Bishops in Belarus, said.

During the protests, Catholic priests tried by their presence to contain the violence on the streets of Belarusian cities. In Grodno and Zhodino, they stood between the security forces and the protesters, and the doors of the churches remained open to everyone.

According to Yuri Sanko, the Roman Catholic Church in Belarus will never take one side or the other, but will always speak the truth: “Today, objectively, the truth is on the side of the people.Innocent blood was shed. It is important that we as Christians relate to this: either we accept and calmly relate to what is happening, or we still want justice."

Reaction of the Orthodox Church in Belarus to the protests

Representatives of the Belarusian Orthodox Church (BOC), which is subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), also expressed their position in connection with the current events in the country.

“The Belarusian Orthodox Church has repeatedly spoken out about the situation in the country,” says Archpriest Alexander Shimbalyov, deputy chairman of the Synodal Department for Church-Society Relations. statements of the Patriarchal Exarch, the Synod, our department."

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Appointment of a new Metropolitan, head of the BOC

The Church condemns any violence, cruelty, calls for a peaceful solution to the problems that have arisen in the Belarusian society, Shimbalyov emphasizes. This is also heard in daily prayers and in communication with believers: "We constantly talk with people, we provide assistance to the victims, the priests came to hospitals and pre-trial detention centers."

The former head of the BOC, Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus, Metropolitan of Minsk and Zaslavl Pavel, met with the people who suffered during the protests and beatings in the pre-trial detention center in one of the hospitals in Minsk.

In one of his speeches, he addressed President Lukashenko: "I ask Alexander Grigorievich Lukashenko, who is the guarantor of our country's constitution, to do everything possible to stop the violence."

After the appeal of Metropolitan Pavel to Lukashenko, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church appointed another head of the BOC. Bishop of Borisov and Maryinogorsk Veniamin in his first speech in this position noted that the mournful events in the country came from the fact that the hearts of the Belarusians "were inclined in an unkind direction."

How Lukashenka responded to the clergy

Meanwhile, the statements of the Belarusian Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church in Belarus did not go unnoticed by President Alexander Lukashenko. On August 22, at a rally in Grodno, he called on representatives of various confessions not to interfere in political issues, "to settle down and do their own thing."

“I am surprised by the position of our confessions. My dear clergy, settle down and get busy with your own business. Churches and churches are not for politics,” Lukashenka said. You are taking your position now. And the state will not look at it with indifference."

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