Belarus bars two longtime Catholic pastors
January 08, 2010
The government of Belarus has refused to grant permission for two Catholic priests—both pastors in the country—to engage in religious activities. Father Jan Bonkowski, a Capuchin, and Father Edward Smaga, a Jesuit, were ordered to stop all religious activity at the end of 2009. Both priests are Polish natives, but had been serving parishes in Belarus—in the case of Father Bonkowski, for 20 years. The government did not explain the refusal to authorize the two priests to continue their religious work.
The Forum 18 news service estimates that more than two-thirds of the 33 foreign citizens barred from conducting religious work in Belarus have been Catholic. Priests and nuns engaged in tackling social issues, such as alcoholism, in a very public manner appear to be particular targets.