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Tadevush Kandrusievich: The Pope Can Give Me Instructions

Tadevush Kandrusievich: The Pope Can Give Me Instructions
Tadevush Kandrusievich

The story of the Belarusian Archbishop, who was not allowed into the country after criticism of the security forces.

On August 31, the leader of the Belarusian Catholics, Metropolitan Tadevush Kandrusievich of Minsk-Mahilieu, was not allowed to come to Belarus when he returned from Poland, despite the fact that he is a citizen of Belarus. A few days earlier, on August 27, Kandrusievich expressed protest to the fact that that armed AMAP blocked the Red Church in Minsk when there were protesters: he called the actions of the security forces "inadequate and illegal" and demanded that the incident is investigated and the perpetrators are punished according to the law, reports "Current time".

The KGB of Belarus has not yet commented on the incident, and Lukashenka said that Kandrusievich allegedly "went to Warsaw for consultations" and "received certain tasks." "And if you also got into politics and dragged along the faithful, Catholics, who are wonderful people, then there is a double responsibility," he said.

What happened at the border, did Kandrusievich really receive "instructions" in Poland, and what is the leadership of the Belarusian Catholic Church going to do next? We asked the Archbishop about it.

– What happened at the border in general and how was it explained to you, if, of course, it was explained?

– I was in Poland last week. The purpose of my visit was a service that Catholics have long asked me to hold, celebrations, anointing, and the first communion of my niece's son. This communion has already been postponed since May due to the coronavirus pandemic, and we have agreed that it will take place next week.

I was returning home, and at the Bruzgi-Kuznica border crossing on the Belarusian side, we were told to move the car to the side because there are some questions with documents.

Then either the shift manager or the head of the checkpoint came and said that, unfortunately, I can't enter Belarus. There were three of us, and my two companions can go, but I can't. I asked: "Why?" The answer was "no comment." When asked where I can address this question, he replied: "Well, here are the Republican border Committee coordinates." I applied there electronically, but I haven't received any response yet. That is, the situation is unclear.

- Lukashenka said yesterday that you allegedly "went to Warsaw for consultations," and there allegedly "received certain tasks"...

– (Laughs.) I haven't even been to Warsaw. I was near Bialystok, and then went to communion in the direction of Warsaw, but not to the city itself. I don't understand what instructions are needed, I can get instructions from the Pope or the papal Nuncio. But someone, especially from another country? The Church is separated from the state!

We serve the state, of course, and I serve Belarus. In all my appeals, I urged people to avoid violence and revenge and called for forgiveness. This is just absurd; I don't understand where it all comes from.

- Lukashenka also says that you allegedly have dual citizenship, can you clarify this?

– How can I make this clear?" I have a Belarusian passport, I showed it.

– Are you personally upset about this situation?

"Of course, I'm upset. Because I have to fulfill my duties as a pastor in Belarus, and now I can't fulfill them. It is clear that I can write a message, send it by email. But this is completely different from being on the spot in person.

In addition, I have two large services scheduled for next Sunday, and I do not know if the issue of my entry will be resolved before then. Of course, people care about all this. Because it is announced that there will be a Bishop, and suddenly there is no Bishop, all sorts of judgments begin. This does not serve to consolidate our society, especially in our time, when we must make every effort to come to a calm solution to all the problems that our society has faced.

- Does the Vatican know about the situation?

– I informed the Nuncio, and then I don't know who he told.

– Do you count on the support of the Vatican in this matter?

- Well, they have their own diplomacy, they somehow decide. There is always moral support, but it is difficult for me to say anything. The problem is that we don't actually have a Nuncio: the new one hasn't arrived yet.

– I wanted to ask you about the events in the Red Church, what is happening around it now?

– The problems started much earlier; the Church of St. Simeon and St. Helena was not transferred to the Catholic community, it was owned by the state, and specifically by the Minsk city Executive Committee. And the Minsk city Executive Committee handed over the Church to "Minsk Heritage" (the organization that was engaged in the reconstruction of the Church). This was, if I remember correctly, in 2013.

And suddenly, the organization demanded to pay every month for the depreciation of the building about $6 thousand. Which is, of course, an unaffordable amount for us, and it is unclear why we should pay it. The Church building was built by Catholics and confiscated from the Church. And it was restored after we had the opportunity to pray in it. Of course, we should thank the state for helping us with the new restoration, but this building is a decoration of the city, it is located in the very center of the city. And now I'm getting messages from the Abbot that the locks have been changed.

– How is the Church working without you?

– Well, I haven't been away that long yet. There is Canon law, which provides that in the absence of a Bishop who may fall ill or go to the Synod (we leave for it every three years for a month), he is replaced by the vicar general. He performs all the functions of managing the diocese. This vicar general in the diocese of Minsk-Mahilieu is Bishop Yury Kasabucki. He performs these duties. Of course, he calls me, consults me. A new catechetical year is beginning. I have prepared a message earlier, and it will be published these days.

– The inability of you to come to the country and the whole situation around the Red Church – do you think this is an attempt to split society on religious grounds, among other things?

– I don't want to think about it." I think not, we have very good relations with the Orthodox, with Protestants, with Muslims, with Jews.

When the coronavirus pandemic started, we had a common prayer in the Red Church, we all prayed together. And two weeks ago, in the same Red Church, there was another common prayer-for a peaceful solution to the conflict, the crisis in which our society found itself. The impulse here was the decision of the Council of Episcopal conferences of Europe to hold a common prayer for all Christians of all faiths throughout Europe at six o'clock in the evening, to read "our father." I received a message about this the day before and invited representatives of other faiths through our website. And they all came! So we don't have any problems with them.

The Red Church is located in the city center. All these rallies, protests, they practically take place there, next to it. Like it or not, everyone around him goes, stops, goes to pray. And then all these strange things begin with keys and so on: one day, it was difficult to get into the Church. But I don't think this will have any impact on interfaith and interreligious relations. I get messages that speak about the solidarity of people of different faiths.

– The US State Department issued a statement saying that the Belarusian authorities should allow the Archbishop to return to the country so that he can take care of his flock. Does this support from other States give you strength and hope that the situation will be resolved?

- Thank you very much, I didn't even know about it. Of course, this is a sign of solidarity. Undoubtedly, this is a great support and help for me.

– What would you like to say to your congregation?"

– First of all, I would like to thank them for their prayers. I receive messages that not only Catholics, but also believers of other faiths also sympathize with me and pray for me, this is a great spiritual support. I think that this is just a misunderstanding that will soon be resolved safely.

And I would like to ask for further prayer. I would like to ask both Catholics and people of other faiths to remain true to their vocation, to remain good citizens of the Republic of Belarus, and to build its future on spiritual values. It is very important that we all have the Foundation on which we want to build our common home. And may the Lord bless you all.

"Is forgiveness possible?" After we've seen all these beatings, harsh detentions, and so on?

– I am very concerned about this, because I hear and see people say: we remember, and we will not forgive. It must be very difficult to forgive. It's not easy. But nevertheless, from the Christian point of view, from the point of view of the gospel, the teachings of Christ, we must forgive.

Look at the cross of the Lord. Christ dies, but with what words? He says: "Father, forgive them." He asks for their forgiveness, and we must follow this example. This is difficult, and I like the words of St. John Paul II, who back in 2000 called for forgiveness and said that forgiveness is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength. Because when we forgive, we also overcome ourselves, the evil that is in us. Because we are all sinners, and we all need forgiveness, from our neighbors, from God. It's not easy, but it's possible.

And I think that both the Catholic Church and other churches should make an effort to lead people to forgiveness. Without forgiveness, it is very difficult. Of course, we also need justice, but this is a matter for the court and other bodies. Our job is to call for forgiveness and dialogue.

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