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Alexander Lukashenko: The Pope absolutely agrees that it's time to come to Belarus

The development of relations between Belarus and the Roman Catholic Church was discussed May 21 by Alexander Lukashenko and Pope Francis who met in the Vatican. 

According to the tradition, an honor guard of Swiss Guards lined up in St. Damaso courtyard. The Belarus head of state was met by the prefect of the Holy See. Accompanied by members of the official delegations and honorary welcoming persons they passed through the halls of the Apostolic Palace in the Papal Library where Pope Francis greeted Alexander Lukashenko.

Mr Lukashenko and Pope Francis met in the one on one format. Then, in the presence of members of the official delegation, the two sides exchanged gifts. The Belarus President presented the pontiff a replica of the Cross of Saint Euphrosyne, a coach model and a holographic icon. Pope Francis gave Alexander Lukashenko three documents about the gospel, the protection of nature and family, which he wrote himself. Another gift of the pontiff was an artistic image of an olive tree, which is a symbol of peace. This is a confirmation of the peace mission, which Belarus took over.

After the audience with the Pope, Alexander Lukashenko met with the Vatican Secretary of State. 

Later, in an interview, the Belarusian President noted that it is time the Pope came to Belarus and met with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church in Belarus. This dialogue would contribute to the peace process.

Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus:
I'm sure that meeting would gather more than one million people who would like to see this handshake not in the distant Cuba airport but on this land, which is located in the center of Europe and, thank God, is not affected by those disasters (he too emphasized it) that occurred in the former Soviet republics and Eastern European republics of the former Soviet Union. Therefore, everything is in the hands of God. If he so wishes, then the top hierarchs of the Catholic and Orthodox churches will meet in Belarus. I think that they will invite there representatives of the Muslim world, Jews and other denominations. The reason may be different but the most sacred occasion, as suggested by many representatives of our clergy, is to pay tribute to those who died in the First and the Second World War.

In addition, Alexander Lukashenko noted the similarity of his views of life with those the Pope adheres to. Their meeting took place in a very friendly and warm atmosphere. 

Alexander Lukashenko:
It went very well. It could not be better! We are close with him ideologically, we have the same principles and views on the world order, development and those principles that I pursue as the President. It so happened that they are completely consistent with the principles upheld by Pope Francis. And on this basis, we had a very sincere, warm and decent conversation. The Pope absolutely agrees that it is time to come to Belarus. He is very knowledgeable about the situation in Belarus, both among Catholics and Orthodox major denominations. He is very well aware of interfaith harmony that reigns in our country, the situation in the social sphere and in the economy.

On May 21, Alexander Lukashenko visited an exhibition of Belarusian icons, which is underway in the Vatican Museum. The exhibition is dedicated to the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy declared by Pope Francis.

Alexander Lukashenko: The Pope absolutely agrees that it's time to come to Belarus