Belarusian authorities continue expelling foreign priests

2009 2009-01-08T19:22:05+0200 1970-01-01T03:00:00+0300 en The Human Rights Center “Viasna” The Human Rights Center “Viasna”
The Human Rights Center “Viasna”

Deputy parish priest of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary church wasn’t prolonged his permit for religious activity in Belarus.

As churchgoer Natallia Bayaryna told BelaPAN some tens of believers went to Lyudmila Harnak, head of the ideological department of the Barysau district executive committee, to defend priest Zbigniew Grygorcewicz. ‘But our demands to allow priest Zbigniew Grygorcewicz continue his religious activity in the country were left without response’, N.Bayaryna said. Gathering signatures for defense of the priest was unsuccessful, too. ‘We gathered more than 400 signatures and sent them to the local authorities and we are not going to stop. We will solicit the authorities for priest Zbigniew,’ the churchgoer emphasized.

N.Bayaryna noted the priest is respected not only by Catholics. ‘Thanks to the efforts of the priest a sporting ground was created near the church, ecumenical dialog between Christian churches of Barysau was continued, a festival of Christian music was prepared, but the city authorities banned it in September,’ N.Bayaryna said.

Maryna Tsvilik, head of the department of religion of the office of religious and national affaires, told BelaPAN reasons of the ban to prolong the permit for father Zbigniew could be explained by Leanid Parkhimovich, head of the council on religious and national affaires of the Minsk region executive committee. According to him, the council has no reasons to stop religious activity of priest Zbigniew, but, as L.Parkhimovich told BelaPAN, a decision on refusal was taken by the executive officer on religious and national affaires, who ‘had the right not to say a reason of the refusal’.

Priest Zbigniew Grygorcewicz said in an interview to BelaPAN he was born in Poland, but his parents came from Belarus. In his view, he has worked in Belarus for three years and hasn’t violated the laws of the country during this time.

According to unofficial information, besides Z.Grygorcewicz, permits were not prolonged for three Polish nuns in Minsk-Mahilou Archdiocese either.

In December 2008 three Roman Catholic priests had from Hrodna Diocese had to leave the country.