“The Church calls for a peaceful solution to the problems that arise, through dialogue in the spirit of love for God and neighbor, with observance of God’s and human laws.”
The bishops echoed Pope Francis’ comments after reciting the Angelus on Sept. 13.
Without mentioning any nations by name, the pope said: “While I urge the demonstrators to present their demands peacefully, without giving in to the temptation of aggression and violence, I appeal to all those who have public and governmental responsibilities to listen to the voice of their fellow citizens and to meet their just aspirations, ensuring full respect for human rights and civil liberties.”
“Finally, I invite the ecclesial communities living in such contexts, under the guidance of their Pastors, to work in favor of dialogue, always in favor of dialogue, and in favor of reconciliation.”
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.
Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, president of the country’s Catholic bishops’ conference, was prevented from returning to the country on Aug. 31. The archbishop of Minsk-Mohilev had spoken out in defense of protesters and said he feared the country was heading towards civil war.
Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States, visited Belarus in September in an attempt to resolve the impasse. But Kondrusiewicz remains barred from his homeland.
Earlier this month, Lukashenko received the Holy See’s new ambassador to the country, Archbishop Ante Jozić.
The state-owned new agency BelTA reported that Lukashenko told the nuncio that Belarus and the Vatican enjoyed “special relations.”
But on Nov. 19, the Prosecutor General of Minsk issued an official warning to Bishop Yuri Kasabutsky, an auxiliary bishop of Minsk-Mohilev, over comments he made on Facebook. Kasabutsky had criticized the authorities for destroying a memorial to a young man reportedly killed by security forces.
In their message on Thursday, the bishops emphasized that their mission was to build the Kingdom of God and that the Church “cannot be used by anyone for political purposes.”
They urged Belarusians to show solidarity with each other to build “a united, not divided, Belarus.”
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They said: “We call on Catholics and all people of good will to continue to offer their prayers for a speedy and peaceful solution to the crisis, for blessed are the peacemakers and those who seek justice, as Christ says. May good defeat evil.”