Belarusian authorities announced Tuesday that Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz of Minsk-Mohilev, who was exiled in August, will be permitted to return to the country at Christmas.
“The Apostolic Nunciature express its gratitude to the State Authorities of Belarus for responding positively to Pope Francis’ request to return Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz to celebrate the Nativity of the Lord with the faithful of which he is pastor,” the nunciature in Belarus stated Dec. 22.
Archbishop Kondrusiewicz’ passport had been invalidated, and he was blocked from returning to Belarus from Poland by border guards Aug. 31. The archbishop has spoken in defense of protests following a disputed presidential election.
Belarus has seen widespread protests since that election. The protests began Aug. 9 after president Alexander Lukashenko was declared to have won that day’s election with 80% of the vote.
Lukashenko, who has been president of Belarus since the position was created in 1994, has suggested Archbishop Kondrusiewicz might be a citizen of more than one country.
Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, apostolic nuncio to the United Kingdom, acted as a special envoy of Pope Francis to Lukashenko, delivering a letter Dec. 17 with a request regarding Archbishop Kondrusiewicz. Archbishop Gugerotti was apostolic nuncio to Belarus from 2011 to 2015.
“Out of deepest respect for the Pope and because of good personal relations, the Belarusian head of state considered it possible to meet the Pope’s request and gave an instruction to find a solution to the issue, taking into account all available legal mechanisms,” Vladimir Makei, the Belarusian foreign minister, said Dec. 22, according to the state-owned Belarusian Telegraph Agency.
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