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Belarus president calls upon Church to act as bridge to Western Europe

Catholic World News - April 10, 2012

President Alexander Lukashenko, who has governed Belarus since 1994, has expressed his disappointment that the Church has not done more to improve relations between his nation and Western Europe.

In 2011, the EU and the United States imposed sanctions on Belarus, which is located between Russia and Poland, after Lukashenko crushed opposition protests.

“I will say frankly that we’ve hoped for better collaboration with the Catholic Church,” Lukashenko told Ambassador Paul Friedrich von Fuhrherr, who is ending his service as representative of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta in Belarus. “We believe that the Catholic Church should have been more active in improving relations between Belarus and Western Europe.”

Nonetheless, Lukashenko thanked Fuhrherr for his service. “You’ve left a pleasant and considerable impact here through your activities. Unlike your colleagues, the Western ambassadors, you're the one who strives in every way to help Belarus and have done everything possible for the benefit of the Belarusian people.”

14% of the nation’s 9.6 million people are Catholic, according to Vatican statistics.

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