The Catholic Church in Belarus appealed for prayers earlier this month after police detained two priests.
The Church website Catholic.by said Dec. 8 that police had seized two priests, Fr. Viktar Zhuk S.J. and Fr. Alyaksei Varanko, in Vitebsk, northeastern Belarus.
They were not the first Catholic priests to have been detained since the mass protests broke out.
AsiaNews, the press agency of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME), reported Dec. 5 on the arrests of two priests in separate incidents.
It said that on Dec. 4 the prosecutor of Vitebsk had ordered Fr. Vjačeslav Barok to be arrested and detained for 10 days in Novopolotsk prison.
It also reported that on Nov. 30 the Greek Catholic priest Fr. Vitalij Bystrov was sentenced to 10 days in prison for taking part in a protest in the city of Brest on Oct. 25. A magazine serving Greek Catholics in Belarus said that Bystrov had only been a bystander at the protest.
The Prosecutor General's office issued a formal warning Nov. 18 to Bishop Yuri Kasabutsky, an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Minsk-Mohilev, regarding social media posts by Catholic clergy after the authorities destroyed a memorial to Raman Bandarenka, a 31-year-old artist reportedly beaten to death by security forces.
The Belarusian government has repeatedly invited Pope Francis to visit the country, which declared independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
The pope publicly expressed his concern for Belarus days after the disputed 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," Pope Francis said in his Angelus address Aug. 16, following a week of violent clashes in the country.
"I entrust all Belarusians to the protection of Our Lady, Queen of Peace."
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