Belarus has always counted on active support and aid of the Catholic Church, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said a he met with Apostolic Nuncio to Belarus Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti on 10 April.
"Since you are going to the Holy See, I would like you to deliver the warmest and kindest words, congratulations (on the Holy Easter holiday) to Pope Benedict XVI. I have warm recollections of our meeting. It is very topical, what I am talking about, particularly now because I am keeping an eye on mass media in and outside Belarus. Some people want to force a wedge into our relations with the Pope of Rome. I must tell you it will not work. We follow the policy of cooperation with the Catholic Church. We have done a lot together with you in mutual relations between the state and the Catholic Church," Alexander Lukashenko noted.
"We have implemented virtually all plans we outlined while talking to the Pope. Just one step is left to make. An agreement is being prepared. And we are resolute to implement it," the President said.
"I would like to reiterate that we have always counted on active support and aid of the Catholic Church. I see how some mass media, particularly in Poland and other countries, have responded to my yesterday's request for the Catholic Church to more actively protect interests of hundreds of thousands of Catholics who live here. Some treat it as a reproach expressed by the President to the Pope. Trust me I did not want to reproach anyone. I did not want to demand or ask either. I know that the Pope is well versed in politics and knows what is going on in Belarus. He understands perfectly well that thousands of Catholics, who live here, need his daily support and protection. I would like you and the Pope to know that the entire government will follow the policy we have agreed upon," the head of state said.
"In Belarus anyone can go to church. We have now allowed Orthodox, Catholic believers and other confessions to build as many temples as the people, who live in Belarus, need. We will resolve all problems like this. It is the essence of our policy. No demand attached," the President stressed.
"I think the day when the Pope can meet with his adherents in Belarus is not far. We will be glad to see him. We should work in this direction with our patriarch. We are working on it. I think we will be able to build good schemes here and will take good measures to enhance not only the Catholic Church but the entire flock, the Orthodox flock, the Catholic flock, and other ones in Belarus," the head of state said. Claudio Gugerotti, in turn, assured the President that "the Pope has great love and commitment regarding Belarus". "I am very glad that you know about the work we do every day to promote peace, justice, and contacts," he said.