Your Excellencies and Eminences,
Reverend Priests and Pastors,
dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
Tonight we have prayed all together in this magnificent cathedral of Berlin. A special prayer was for the people of Belarus. The people, who for the last several months have experienced intimidation, brutality, and violence. The people, who protested when their voices were stolen and who suffered torture and mass arrests.
Despite all the repressions and exceeded violence, the people of Belarus continue their protests in a peaceful manner. Despite this painful and cruel experience, these months were also a unique gift for us. We have foretasted a new Belarus. An inclusive and fraternal society where justice prevails. We experienced hope for the future, respect for the dignity of the human person, faith in truth, and justice. We lived inspiration for creativity, mutual love, solidarity and trust in each other. It is truly something that has lightened up a vision for us. The vision of Belarus we create and work for.
This Belarus already exists among neighbours who gather to drink tea in their courtyards and then go to the rallies on Sunday. It exists among doctors, who fight against COVID and cure the wounds of those injured but also stand in chains of solidarity to stop the violence. It exists among Christian leaders and believers, who pray together for peace and justice, but also raise a common voice against injustice and violence. They work for dialogue and protection of human dignity. They witness together and serve together.
As never before our society is thirsty to hear the authentic voice of the religious leaders and communities. And as never before in the modern history of Belarus the voice of the people of faith sounds so loud and courageously. The voice of the Christian activist Paval Seviaryniec, who was put in prison in June and became one of the first among 156 Belarusian political prisoners. The voice of the Roman Catholic Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, who promoted the way of dialogue, but was forced to exile. The voice of the Orthodox bishop Artemy of Hrodna, who openly condemned rigged elections and violence. The voice of the Roman Catholic bishop Yury Kasabutsky, whose fervent sermons and statements inspired people and outraged the authorities. The voice of the Orthodox priest Vladimir Drobyshevsky with his banner “Stop the violence” at the street of Homiel, who served a term of 25 days of arrest. The voice of Irena Bernatskaya, a Catholic believer from Lida, who launched a rosary prayer for Belarus, and underwent several trials. Protestant pastors Siarhei Lukyanau, Yaraslau Viazouski, Taras Telkovsky and others launched the video project “The Voice of the Church” to encourage Christians to be more active in defending truth, justice and non-violence.
I would like to conclude my address by bringing you another voice. It calls from behind the prison walls. This is the voice of Roman-Catholic priest Viachaslau Barok from Rasony, who was arrested for speaking out loudly on social media. He wrote in his letter: “I believe that very soon in Belarus we will change the landmarks. That instead of installing the prison bars and building walls, we will start to build bridges of unity… Evil is temporary and Good prevails”.
The city of Berlin was once divided by a brick wall. The whole Europe was once divided by the invisible wall, an iron curtain. Walls may create an impression of the false security of being protected from the enemies. However, in reality, very often the walls imprison us. For many years Belarusians were separated from each other by all kinds of visible and invisible walls. But our common hope and our thirst for freedom and justice demolished the divisions while keeping the diversities. Every fraternal gesture, every sign of solidarity breaks the walls down. Every expression of trust, every act of support builds a new bridge.
Today at this prayer we have enjoyed it all — fraternity, solidarity, trust, and support for Belarusian people. On behalf of the Belarusian people, let me express all of you my deep gratitude for it.
God bless Belarus!