A Belarusian bishops’ spokesman downplayed a police raid on Minsk’s Catholic cathedral, though a distinguished lay Catholic warned arrests elsewhere recommended the transfer might sign additional police motion.
“We don’t actually know what the police had been searching for,” Father Yuri Sanko, spokesman for the Minsk-based bishops’ convention, advised Catholic Information Service July 8, 4 days after police arrived at Minsk’s Blessed Virgin Mary Cathedral after the principle Sunday Mass. “Though they spoke with the cathedral clergy, nobody was arrested and nothing confiscated, and we haven’t heard of different related incidents.”
On July 3, President Alexander Lukashenko had warned Catholics towards singing a hymn, “Magutny Bozha” (“Almighty God”), which has been a logo for anti-regime protests.
In a July 7 Fb put up, Auxiliary Bishop Yury Kasabutski of Minsk-Mohilev mentioned law enforcement officials had complained “some norm of regulation had been violated” by the hymn, however had appeared to not “perceive themselves” what this meant.
The bishop added that the hymn, composed in 1947, was “to begin with a prayer for homeland and other people,” and had been proposed as a brand new nationwide anthem in 1993 by a parliamentary fee.
“This hymn has additionally change into a prayer utilized in worship by Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants, in addition to being sung by folks not figuring out with any faith,” Bishop Kasabutski mentioned.
“Each prayer carries unimaginable energy and is able to performing nice miracles. If a sure prayer has nice energy, then the satan will battle with the best power to stop folks from utilizing it.”
Nevertheless, an internet editor from Belarus’ Jap Catholic Church mentioned the director of a church choir had been arrested with at the least 20 others within the western metropolis of Brest after singing the hymn.
“Thank God, no related actions by regulation enforcement companies have thus far been reported,” Ihar Baranouski advised CNS July 8. “However the authorities might have determined to check the response of Catholics within the capital’s primary church on this manner.”
In a speech on Belarus’ July 3 state vacation, which commemorates the Soviet military’s 1944 seize of Minsk from occupying Germans, Lukashenko warned Christians towards singing the hymn.
“The ache from crimes dedicated in the course of the Nice Patriotic Battle continues to be in our hearts — but some folks wish to flip historical past again, rehabilitate their grandfathers and full the enterprise they began by destroying a sovereign state,” Lukashenko mentioned. “They’ve moved to the sacred locations of our statehood below the banner of fascist mercenaries — as our mass media report, they now search to wish in church buildings with this ‘Almighty God.’”
Father Sanko mentioned the hymn was “not prohibited” and would proceed to be sung.
“The president can say what he likes — this isn’t our concern,” he mentioned. “This hymn has been sung brazenly and devotionally for many years, and other people can have opinions about it. Nevertheless it’s additionally been sung on state events, and no earlier authorities has had any situation with it.”
Baranouski famous that though some choirs had avoided singing the hymn, “Everybody in Belarus is aware of this majestic non secular anthem carries no fascist propaganda in anyway, so most Catholics have thus far ignored the top of state’s risk.”
“They really feel it’s pointless to hearken to what they think about unlawful state interference of their prayer life and hope Lukashenko’s newest emotional outburst, attributable to the nation’s normal disaster, will quickly be forgotten.”
The USA and European Union tightened sanctions towards the Belarus regime in late June, in response to human rights violations since Lukashenko’s disputed August 2020 reelection and the pressured touchdown of a Ryanair industrial flight in Could.
In a July 7 assertion, the nation’s Christian Imaginative and prescient affiliation mentioned a distinguished Catholic priest, Father Viachaslau Barok, who served 10 days’ detention in December, had fled Belarus after police raided his house July 1 and accused him of involvement in an “unauthorized public occasion.”
It added that Father Barok’s YouTube channel had greater than 9,000 subscribers and mentioned his “politically motivated” harassment was meant to intimidate “all clergy and laity in Belarus who communicate out towards human rights violations, lawlessness and violence.”
“This can be a clear interference within the actions of the Catholic Church — it violates constitutional rights to freedom of conscience and expression,” Christian Imaginative and prescient mentioned.