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02 November 2020, 15:26

Lukashenko comments on Pope's invitation to visit Belarus

MINSK, 2 November (BelTA) – Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko commented on the invitation for the Pope to visit Belarus as he met with Metropolitan Veniamin of Minsk and Zaslavl, Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus, on 2 November, BelTA has learned.

“There has recently been a lot of talk about the Pope's visit: the invitation and so on. I would like you to know my position on the matter, and the society should hear it, too. The Roman pontiff is the head of state and chief pastor of the Catholic church. Hence, the invitation, if there is such, should come from the head of state and the head of the Orthodox church which has lots of issues with Catholics,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The head of state said that he does not want to “be caught between a rock and a hard place and create inconveniences.” He added that he had discussed the issue with the Pope and the head of the Catholic Church showed understanding.

“There are speculations that the Pope will visit almost incognito and that there will be crowds of people from all over Europe. Of course, Catholics from all over Europe will come, and these can be 100,000-200,000 people. It is a fact. However, we do not want to create problems when the state invites the Pope and the Orthodox Church, our main confession, and our Patriarch do not agree with it. We have never wanted to sow discord and never will. I do not mind the Pope, not to mention our Patriarch, come to visit us. There must be an overall consent to it, however. It should not cause an irreparable split. Therefore, any conversations about it and the use of politics in this matter are unacceptable,” the president said.

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