24 September 2008, 13:22
Lukashenko says he'd like Orthodox, Catholic Church heads to meet in Belarus
Minsk, September 24, Interfax - Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has said he would like the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia and the Pope to meet in Belarus.
"I would very much like a meeting of the Moscow Patriarch and the Roman [Catholic] Pope to take place here in Belarus, in the center of Europe and at a meeting point of Orthodoxy and Catholicism," Lukashenko said in an interview with the Western media.
The president, however, admitted that "it is impossible today for certain known reasons."
In spite of this, "we, following the principles of hospitality and respecting our Catholics, have invited this great person [the pope] to visit Belarus," he said.
"I strongly regret that the incumbent pope's predecessor - John Paul II - did not come to Belarus. He wanted very much to visit our country. He loved Belarus absolutely sincerely," Lukashenko said.
The Belarusian president said he sees no reasons for religious conflicts in his country.
"It will never happen in Belarus. We have proclaimed a principle: everyone has to find his own path to the Church, if he wants to follow this path," he said.
In Belarus, "an Orthodox church and a Catholic cathedral are situated across the street from each other," the president said.
"We have never seen any confrontations, any reproaches, or wry glances between Catholic and Orthodox believers. And we will not see them," Lukashenko said.