Belarus allows Roman Catholic archbishop to return

International

Belarus Roman Catholic Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz leads a Christmas midnight mass at the Church of Saints Simon and Helena during in Minsk, Belarus, Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020. Belarusian authorities have allowed Roman Catholic priest Kondrusiewicz to return to the country after denying him entry for months. Kondrusiewicz was barred from entering the ex-Soviet nation for nearly four months after his criticism of the Belarusian authorities’ crackdown on protests. (AP Photo)

MOSCOW (AP) — Belarusian authorities have allowed a Roman Catholic priest to return to the country after denying him entry for months.

Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz of Minsk and Mohilev arrived in Belarus on Thursday. Kondrusiewicz was barred from entering the ex-Soviet nation for nearly four months after his criticism of the Belarusian authorities’ crackdown on protests demanding the resignation of the country’s authoritarian leader.

Kondrusiewicz was denied entry on Aug. 31 while he was returning to Belarus from a trip to Poland. The next day, Belarus’ authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko accused the 74-year-old archbishop of “delving into politics and dragging believers” into it.

Lukashenko’s reelection to a sixth term in the Aug. 9 presidential vote was widely seen as fraudulent, sparking massive protests that have continued since then, despite a brutal police crackdown that has seen over 30,000 protesters detained.

The archbishop’s return followed Lukashenko’s meeting earlier this month with a top Vatican diplomat who visited Minsk.

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