The newspaper Minskaya Prauda, which was founded, among others, by the Minsk Regional Executive Committee, came out on September 7 with a caricature of Catholic priests on its front page. The Catholic Church did not appreciate such humor.
The cover of “Minsk Prauda” was published in the Telegram channel of the group “Khrystsyanskaya Viziya,” which is a member of the Coordinating Council. The picture shows Catholic priests, including those holding a white-red-white flag and singing the “Mighty God” anthem. they have a Nazi swastika instead of the Christian cross. The text calls the anthem a collaborationist one.
“What is this? A provocation? A hype? Sadly, this is our reality! I can’t help but remind you that every week we also pray for the enemies of the church!” Yury Sanko, the spokesman for the Catholic Church in Belarus, commented on Facebook about the cartoon.
According to him, this caricature and the corresponding article of the state newspaper “spits in the face of millions of Catholics living in our country. If you carefully look at the cartoon on the first page, where a cross is desecrated, I think all Christians are insulted. It is a propaganda of Nazi symbols”.
The group “Khrystsyanskaya Viziya” has also published a statement:
“The cartoonish depiction of Catholic priests with swastika crosses has signs of deliberate actions, aimed at defamation of the Roman-Catholic Church in Belarus, at the formation of the negative image of the Catholic priests as “Nazis” and at the incitement of religious enmity or discord against the Roman-Catholic priests. The fact that the cartoon was published on the front page of an official media outlet of the executive authorities is also an important circumstance, which indicates the support of such anti-Catholic attacks by the state and sows enmity against the entire Roman-Catholic community in Belarus, which is a religious minority in the country,” reads the statement.
The statement notes that such actions can be qualified under Part 1 and Part 2 of Article 130 of the Criminal Code (“Incitement of racial, national, religious or other social hatred or enmity”).
“Khrystsyanskaya Viziya” also urged the Vatican to note the fomentation of hatred against the Roman Catholic Church in Belarus by the state media and “to respond adequately to such facts in defense of interdenominational peace, the Roman Catholic community, as well as the rights and freedoms of believers.”