The Church has continued to encounter difficulties since Kondrusiewicz’s departure. It recently protested after a regional government newspaper published a front-page cartoon of a priest wearing a swastika.
An estimated 1.6 million civilians, including around 500,000 Jews, died during the three-year Nazi occupation of Belarus.
Aleksandr Rumak, Commissioner for Religious and Ethnic Affairs of Belarus, later assured the Church that the cartoon did not reflect the state’s official position and was unacceptable.
The state-owned news agency BelTA reported on Sept. 9 that Archbishop Ante Jozić, the apostolic nuncio to Belarus, met with the country’s foreign minister Vladimir Makei.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: “The minister emphasized the inviolability of the official approaches towards the Roman Catholic Church in Belarus, the inadmissibility of inciting religious intolerance and the importance of preserving ethno-confessional harmony in the country in general.”
“In this context, one should not attach any importance to individual, solely subjective attempts to present the situation differently.”
Bishop Iosif Staneuski, 52, has served as an auxiliary bishop of Grodno, western Belarus, since 2014.
He was born on April 4, 1969, in the village of Zanevich, near Grodno. He was ordained a priest of Grodno diocese on June 17, 1995.
In 1999, he earned a Licentiate in Canon Law from the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, Poland.
He served as a lecturer, prefect, and ultimately rector of the major seminary in Grodno. He oversaw the pastoral formation of young priests of Grodno diocese from 2007 to 2013.
He was elected general secretary of the Belarusian bishops’ conference in 2015 and for a second time in April this year.
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The archdiocese of Minsk-Mohilev dates back to 1798 and took on its present form in 1991. In addition to a cathedral in Minsk, the archdiocese has a co-cathedral in Mohilev (also known as Mogilev), a city in eastern Belarus.