Belarusian Catholics Addressed Pope Benedict XVI
A group of Roman Catholics and Greek Catholics, public activists and culture of Belarus have sent an open letter to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI with a request to help believers save St. Joseph’s church and return it to the Catholic community. In particular, the letter reads: “We, Belarusian Christians, public men and workers of culture, address You with a request for prayer against destroying the only closed church and a monastery complex of the 17th century in Minsk, Belarus, which Russian Tsarist and Soviet Atheistic regimes failed to destroy.
The authors of the address note that in Belarus and Minsk a great need for church buildings for believers is experienced. “About 2 mln people live in Minsk today, while only 4 Roman Catholic churches are opened. We are witnessing that for more than two years people are taking part in daily prayers in front of St. Joseph church, which is at the moment used as an archive, and can be destroyed soon”.
Public and culture figures of Belarus note that on August 7, 2001 a community of St. Joseph’s church was registered, however in violation of the rights of believers, the building hadn’t been given to the church.
19 persons have signed the address: the People’s poet of Belarus Ryhor Baradulin, a well-known Belarusian artist, the leader of the Association of the Belarusians of the world “Fatherland” Alyaksei Marachkin, the editor-in-chief of the “Nasha Niva” Andrei Dynko, Professor Yury Khadyka, a vice president of the International Federation of human rights Ales Byalatski, a human rights activist Valyantsin Stefanovich, a chairman of the Committee for defense of the repressed “Solidarity” Ina Kulej, a human rights activist Vyachaslau Siuchyk, a human rights activist, a coordinator of the Charter’97 Zmitser Bandarenka, the leader of the youth center “Volat” (Barysau) Zmitser Barodka, a deputy chairman of the Belarusian Popular front party Viktar Ivashkevich, an art historian Syarhei Khareuski, a public activist Uladzimer Kobets, a human rights activist Iryna Toustsik, an artist Mikola Kupava, the chairman of the Belarusian Helsinki Committee Tatsyana Protska, a political analyst Andrei Kusyalchuk, a writer Uladzimir Khalip, a human rights activist Ludmila Hraznova.
According to reports, the regime has a plan of reconstruction of the former monastery into a hotel complex. It is planned that a construction firm of one of Arab countries would finance and build the hotel. Belarusian Catholics are engaged in an active struggle for the church. Every day prayer services are held near the building. More than 10,000 signatures under a demand not to destroy the holy place, and to give it to believers, have been given to Alyaksandr Lukashenka. Not only Catholics, but Orthodox, Protestants and others take part in struggle for the church.