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25 December 2020, 17:06

No political games behind return of Belarusian Catholic Church head to Belarus

MINSK, 25 December (BelTA) – No political games were involved in the decision to allow Metropolitan of Minsk and Mogilev, Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz to return to Belarus. Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko made the relevant statement as he visited the Minsk Children's Infectious Diseases Hospital on 25 December, BelTA has learned.

A reporter asked the head of state about his recent meeting with Apostolic Nuncio to the United Kingdom and a special envoy of Pope Francis, Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti and the consequent return of Metropolitan of Minsk and Mogilev, Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz to Belarus.

Lukashenko meets with special envoy of Pope FrancisLukashenko meets with special envoy of Pope Francis
Claudio Gugerotti worked as Apostolic Nuncio in Belarus in 2011-2015. This time he is visiting Belarus as a special envoy of Pope Francis.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted: “You know my drawback as a politician. Even ordinary people often reproach me: ‘Aleksandr Grigoryevich, why do you have to say that, why do you bare your soul? They will spit in it…' I am in favor of a sincere, open, and honest policy. Although there is nothing like that in politics and should be none. But let me tell you sincerely and honestly how it happened. The key aspect. There were a lot of aspects to it.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko said that Claudio Gugerotti had delivered a letter from Pope Francis. “You know my relations with Pope Francis. I respect him a lot. It is our kind of man. He doesn't play politics although he is a head of state. I read his letter right there in Gugerotti's presence. Small font, two sheets of paper. A lot of kind words addressed to the state and the people. A good man. One of the questions was to return Kondrusiewicz back to Belarus for Christmas,” the head of state said.

“I understand after all that this is politics, too. Everyone wants to keep his face and something else. Back then I didn't have a decision although I'd expected Gugerotti to bring up the matter. I've been acquainted with Claudio Gugerotti for a long time. He has worked here. He loves the Belarusian nation a lot and has always sincerely and honestly spoken in support of our people. This is why he had been chosen although he already works as a nuncio in the UK. I honestly admitted in presence of the minister of foreign affairs that I didn't have a ready decision,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stated.

Taking into account the letter and the Pope's request, Aleksandr Lukashenko promised that an answer would be given by the evening on the day of the meeting. “When are you leaving? Tomorrow morning. Then we will give you an answer by the evening. So, I didn't have a ready decision. It was not a political game,” the Belarusian leader stressed.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that he instructed the government, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the rest to present their stance on the matter to him. “They said it was necessary for Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz to return to Belarus for the Catholic festivities,” the head of state said. “I thought about people. You know that Catholics are special people but they have never posed a problem for us. I've already said that I've encountered them probably since I was a kid although I grew up in the east. I thought it would be a small benefit for these Catholics and they would appreciate it. Does Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz represent any danger for us? He doesn't. It was my point of view. When the government presented its stance to me after deliberations, our views coincided. We decided to allow him to return.”

“Don't trust those who say that Lukashenko has outplayed someone, that the Pope would go nearly as far as rooting for Belarus now. I didn't think in those terms. I understood that the Pope is an honest and decent person. I swear it was not a political game,” Aleksandr Lukashenko concluded.

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