All religions promoting calm and stability to be given support
Belarus to continue establishing close ties with Vatican
Belarus to continue establishing close ties with Vatican, notes Alexander Lukashenko, on meeting Apostolic Nuncio of Vatican to Belarus, Claudio Gugerotti, as he ends his diplomatic mission to our country
Belarus to continue establishing close ties with Vatican, notes Alexander Lukashenko, on meeting Apostolic Nuncio of Vatican to Belarus, Claudio Gugerotti, as he ends his diplomatic mission to our country.
The President has thanked the Apostolic Nuncio to Belarus, Claudio Gugerotti, for his sincere position regarding our country.
In particular, Mr. Lukashenko underlined, “I’d like to officially and publicly thank you for the mission you have conducted in Belarus. I’m telling you absolutely sincerely and without any diplomacy, that you have been, probably, the best ambassador from the Vatican.” The Head of State noted that all Vatican ambassadors have worked well.
“Your mission has been honest, open, principled and, sometimes, extremely frank, yet always humanitarian. Some of Belarus’ interrelations with the Vatican and some other states have been treated by you proceeding from the interests of Belarus and our people, for which I’m grateful,” Mr. Lukashenko emphasised.
The President noted that much has been done to establish close ties with the Vatican and with the Pope, during Claudio Gugerotti’s time in Belarus. “I’d like to assure you that we aren’t going to abandon this policy. If someone thinks that I’ll change my attitude towards Catholics, the Catholic Church, and the Vatican, they are absolutely incorrect. It’s total nonsense,” the Belarusian President asserted. “We aren’t changing anything. We haven’t courted those of Catholic or Orthodox faith, or any others. We’ve been pursuing an honest and sincere policy.”
Mr. Lukashenko continued, “Some of our citizens are Catholics. They are believers. They are principled people and I respect their stance.”
According to the President, every person must decide their religion for themselves. “I’ve been pursuing this policy for 20 years, and always will. Do you want to be a Catholic? Go right ahead. Would you like to be Orthodox? Be my guest. If you want to preach the Jewish religion, Muslim or Buddhist, we won’t stop you. You’re free to choose any religion; we’ll never interfere. If you don’t want to go to church, you don’t have to. We aren’t going to oppress anyone or force them to accept any religion. People must make their own choices.”
During his meeting with Claudio Gugerotti, Mr. Lukashenko stressed that Belarus will continue supporting all religions which promote calm and stability.
The President underlined his respect for Catholics, Orthodox and Muslim believers who reside in Belarus; he respects all faiths and religions, as long as they are not used for terrorist aims, or to destabilise society.
“If a religion serves calm, order and stability in the country, we’ll only support it, as you should know,” asserted the Head of State.
During the meeting with the Apostolic Nuncio, Claudio Gugerotti, Mr. Lukashenko mentioned his hope of one day meeting Pope Francis. The President of Belarus asked the Archbishop to tell Pope Francis that he`d like to meet him. “I`d like to discuss so many things with this person, whom I respect a great deal,” notes Mr. Lukashenko.
He praised the work of Claudio Gugerotti in Belarus, saying, “You`ve always supported us. We’ve done a lot to establish good ties and I believe, in the future, we’ll do our best to organise a top level meeting with the Pope. I respect him a great deal. I follow media reports on his trips and statements and like his stance on the poorest people, and the fight against corruption, honesty and justice. I`m glad that such a person is leading the Catholic Church today.”
Mr. Lukashenko added, “You see that we`re doing our utmost to support our Catholics. We have a theology school, to train our priests (the Italians have been helping us). We’ve already discussed this issue with you. We`ll welcome any priest wishing to arrive in our country with the intention of respecting our people and working in the best interests of our state, as you have always done."
By Vasily Kharitonov