Pope Francis is currently visiting the Baltic countries. Thousands of Belarusians went to Vilnius to meet the Pontiff.
Belarusian pilgrims in Lithuania prayed with the Pontiff, spoke of joy, reconciliation and good mood. But in Belarus people are expecting the visit, which has never happened in the past. As for the reasons, it is likely to be the moment where religion and politics intersect.
However, for the time being, the Belarusian believers have to go to other countries to see the Pope, or simply wait.
The people we interviewed on the streets of Minsk said that the Pope’s visit to Belarus would contribute to “the consolidation of the faithful.”
“It would be quite an important gesture towards the relations with the West, and for the Catholics it would be very important,” says a resident of Minsk.
The reasons for the non-arrival of the Pope lie, rather, with the Moscow and the Russian Orthodox Church, analyst Ales Lahvinets believes.
Representatives of the church in Belarus called the reasons for the non-arrival of the Pope “more or less understandable”.
At the times of the warming relations with the West and existing tensions with Moscow, Alyaksandr Lukashenka used the Vatican and met with Pope twice — with Benedict XVI in 2009 and Pope Francis in 2012.
Metropolitan Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz prayed for the first time in Belarusian in the Vilnius Church of St. Raphael. He also recalled the last visit of Pope John Paul II to Lithuania in 1993.
“Pope John Paul II said at the time that any democracy without God’s law is totalitarianism. We see today a spiritual totalitarianism, which is part of life. If criticizing the faith, the Church, God himself is the norm, and to protect them — not,” said the Metropolitan of Minsk and Mahiliou Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz.
Siarhei Padsasonny; Photos – Alessandro Di Meo / Pool via Reuters