Archbishop Gugerotti: I Am Grateful to Belarusian People For Its Kind Heart

nuncyj (46)Belarusian Catholics, priests and hierarchs said good-bye to the Apostolic Nuncio to Belarus Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, who begins his service in Ukraine, on 12 December at Holy Virgin Mary arccathedral in Minsk.

The Vatican’s representative, who played a significant role in Pope Francis’ intercession for the release of political prisoners, told about freedom in in his last sermon given to Belarusian believers. “Defend the freedom in your hearts”, – asked the hierarch priests and lay-people, while reminding that the vocation of everyone is “to be the servants of freedom”.

While talking about hardships of the way of freedom, the hierarch gave the example of John the Baptizer, who was “destined to be born in the name of Christ and to disappear in His presence”. Archbishop Gugerotti asked not to be indifferent to the oppression of personal freedom whoever exercises it: “A true freedom begins in hearts. An outer freedom is only a display and a symbol of an inner freedom. It is a fredom of God who loves his people and dies for it on the cross. This is a freedom from idols and from manipulations. Seek and pray for freedom for your people”, – told the hierarch Belarusian Catholics.

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The archbishop said “grazie” (“thank you”) to old people, whose “life was hell” and who “created churches at home”. Many old people attended the Mass, the people who saved the faith for their grandchildren and now came to say good-bye to the man by whose initiative Pope Francis wrote a letter to one of them – an old woman from Vileyka who made a struggle for life of all her life.

“I want say thank you for your kind heart”, – said the archbishop while many time stressing that “Belarusian people is not fit for a protest”, while asking priests to be the real servants of people. “These people won’t ask you why the father hasn’t prepared for a sermon. They will just silently step aside and nwver come back.” The hierarch also reminded about the priests’ responsibility for every person who left the church because of their negligence.

Msgr. Gugerotti also stressed the importance of “change of the language of the Church”. While reminding that four hierarchs has been recently appointed to the position of bishop he mentioned that the new bishops must not “sit but go forth”, they must find a new language to communicate with people and not turn into “broken recorders” who “are repeating the same thing for twenty years”. The hierarch asked the bishops to look for materials for sermons not on the Internet but in their own experience.

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The hierarch told that having a right for a free month before leaving to Ukraine he planned to serve a holiday mass on Christmas in Mahilyou and visit Hrodna, but Pope Francis ordered him to leave immediately considering the grave situation in Ukraine. The heirarch will meet Christmas with believers of Lviv, with Roman and Greek Catholics.

Among farewell presents, given to Archbishop Gugerotti by the believers, was a picture of Budslau sanctuary, where the service of the hierarchs in Belarus started and ended, and a rug maid of linen – to “see the dreams about Belarus”.

Photos by Paval Hadzinski