Priest Viachaslau Barok is a famous Belarusian Roman Catholic priest, rector of the church of St. Josafat Kuntsevich in Rasony, video blogger. On his YouTube channel over the past year he has been reviewing the social teaching of the Catholic Church and the events taking place in Belarus from the perspective of this teaching. On November 12, he was summoned to the Investigative Committee «as a witness» in an unknown criminal case, but it was gone about the YouTube channel and the speeches of the priest. He is a member of the group «Christian Vision» of the Coordinating Council.
Dear friends, please let me address not you, but Pope Francis today.
Our lives are short; we should not postpone what hearts desire. While I am still free, though the Investigative Committee is ploughing through all that I preach, I would like to express to you, my friends, my deep gratitude. Then I would like to address the Pope.
I am aware that I am only one of 1,330,000 Catholics around the world and one of over 400,000 priests. I understand well that for certain good reasons Belarus is not the Vatican’s primary concern. All this suggests that my words have hardly any chance of reaching the Holy See rather than being lost among the thousands of more important concerns.
Still, I would rather try than regret later that I failed to do what was in my power.
Dear Pope Francis, I am asking you to hear not me, but the Belarusian people. It so happened that the authorities of the country have started a war with its own people.
Indeed, a war. Our peace crashed when the elections were rigged, truth was laughed at and justice – stomped upon. The state justice has started judging and convicting not criminals, but their victims. Prisons are full now of victims of violence, not of those who beat them.
Why did it happen?
It is quite simple: our voices got stolen. We were deprived of free choice. Even God does not take this freedom away, but we were deprived of it. Those who disagreed with this injustice, are now thrown into prisons, fired from work, expelled from universities, beaten, tortured, denigrated and killed.
Nobody knows better than you do how everything turns upside down when military junta takes the power in a country. No doubts, the experience of your motherland, Argentina, with its Dirty War of 1976-83 when nearly 100,000 people suffered badly, allows you to understand our situation very well.
In Belarus, over 26,000 people have already been detained, there are over 100 political prisoners, thousands have been crippled and six – killed. Sure, fewer than during the Dirty War, however the Belarusian law enforcing agencies have not stooped their lawless violence yet. This is after only 100 days of peaceful protests.
Raman Bandarenka died 12 November 2020. Indeed, it was a murder. Thugs took him away from Plošča Pieramenaŭ (Square of Changes). This is a usual way for Belarusian law enforcing agencies to commit their crimes: without uniforms or identity signs, but with weapons in hands and balaclavas on faces. Raman was killed for his stance for decency and solidarity, for the Belarusian flag symbolising Christ, for belief that goodness will conquer evil. This tragic death of a 31-year old artist shook Belarus. Only those who lost their human sensibilities could have stayed indifferent.
Every Belarusian understands now that unless the people fighting for the rule of law overcome lawlessness, a humanitarian catastrophe in the country is inevitable. This war will destroy the nation, the country and the humanity in people.
The aim of my appeal is to find an answer to the question: what shall we do to bring peace to Belarus? How to stop this war?
I have read your Encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, several times. I explained to others how relevant your message was for Belarus. However, I cannot find an answer to my own question of how it is possible to have a dialogue with those who do not want a dialogue. How the «architecture of peace» is possible without dialogue? Our Metropolitan Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz was expelled from the country as soon as he raised a question of a dialogue.
I am losing faith that those who have had a taste of human blood can come to their senses and start talking.
At the same time, the one who proclaimed that «today is not the right time to observe laws» happily met with your envoy to Belarus, Archbishop Ante Jozić. The regime propaganda happily spread the image of the Nuncio and the person who publicly confessed to ordering the murder of innocent citizens drinking champagne together. This was too much for Belarusians.
In my videos, I tried to explain this event without blaming the policy the Vatican had chosen. Thank you for your care and thoughts about us. However, everyone can see that by calling you «the best Pope», Lukashenko only seeks to hide behind the authority of St Peter’s successor. Not behind Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, but behind Christ’s Apostle. He pretends that the Pontiff himself has given him a dispensation for further crimes.
I know definitely that it is not true. So, dear Papa, here is my question: how to stop this evil in our country?
As someone who opposes lies and violence and, consequently, is against fascism, communism and all the ideologies built on those teachings, I had to explain to law enforcement why I was taking stance against this evil.
The Investigative Committee summoned for an interview not a famous artist Tsesler, but a priest from the most remote corner of Belarus, because I had posted on social media Tsesler’s work, Stop Lukashism, which reflects on the evil of the Belarusian authoritarian regime and its roots in the unrepented crimes of Soviet communism.
Of all this, I am guilty only of preaching the teaching of the Church. I cannot help it.
Dear Papa, in the Encyclical, you said that each of us should discern our roles in the parable of the Samaritan … I has found mine: having no other options, I lay down next to the beaten and offended man. This is how I see Belarus today, its awakened people.
Dear Papa, tell me, how do you see your role when talking about Belarus? Using the terms from the parable, I understand that the bandits are still on the road and they still beat people. Because of this, there is no way for you to visit our country. Still, how do you see yourself, what is your role?
No doubts, your answer, dear Papa, will help Belarus. Our people has no claims and demands to others. We want only truth, justice, freedom and peace. Is this not what God wants?
Thank you, Pope Francis, for fulfilling your Shepherd’s ministry to us and teaching us.