Updated at 12:42,19-04-2021

Belarus leader seeks support in West: Hope for meeting with Pope Francis


Belarus President Alyaksandr Lukashenka hopes to meet with Pope Francis, he said at the meeting with Apostolic Nuncio in Belarus Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti.

“I would like to discuss a lot of things with this person whom I respect a lot,” Lukashenka told Archbishop Gugerotti who is completing his diplomatic mission in Belarus.

“You see that we are doing our utmost to support our Catholics. This pertains to the theology school where we will train our priests (at present Italians will help us). We will welcome any priest who will arrive in our country and will respect our people, will work in the best interest of our state as you have always been doing,” state-run news agency BelTA quotes the head of state.

It is to be recalled that in the summer of 2013 the Belarusian KGB arrested a Roman Catholic priest. Father Uladzislau Lazar was accused of high treason: later his acts were qualified as complicity in a crime, in particular handing over money to a suspect of espionage. Fr Lazar denied all charges. In December, 2013 he was released and the KGB asked Claudio Gugerotti to collect Fr Lazar from the detention centre. the case was swept under the carpet.

At the same time, when the Belarusian leader was welcoming Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia in Minsk, he called Belarus ‘a stronghold of Orthodoxy at the western borders of our once-great Motherland’ [Soviet Union – Belsat].

Although Alyaksandr Lukashenka states that Catholic and Orthodox believers live in peace in Belarus, local religious conflicts do happen.