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Polish Catholic bishops’ leader calls for ‘fervent prayer’ for end to Belarus border crisis

A Polish Catholic archbishop called on Wednesday for “fervent prayer” for an end to the crisis at the country’s border with Belarus.

In a Nov. 10 statement, Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, the president of the Polish bishops’ conference, addressed what he described as “dramatic events” on the roughly 250-mile border between Poland and its eastern neighbor.

The Polish government, the European Union, and NATO have accused Belarus of helping thousands of mainly Middle Eastern migrants to gather at the frontier and seek to enter Poland. The Belarusian government, led by President Alexander Lukashenko, denies the claim.

“On behalf of the Polish bishops’ conference, I strongly condemn the use of human tragedies by the Belarusian side to conduct actions against Poland’s sovereignty,” the archbishop of Poznań, western Poland, said.

“Most of the migrants are victims of ruthless political action and the greed of the smuggling mafia. For this reason, I would like to repeat once again that those who suffer by this evil need our care in solidarity.”

He continued: “At the same time, I would like to express my gratitude to the people and institutions that provide such help, with respect for the law in force in Poland.”

“I would also like to express my appreciation to all state services, including the Border Guard, army, and police, for their dedicated defense of Polish borders. I assure you of my heartfelt prayers for you and your loved ones, in these difficult moments of service for the good of the homeland.”

“I am asking all the faithful and people of goodwill for fervent prayer for Poland, for the victims of this crisis, and for its peaceful resolution.”

On Wednesday, the Catholic Church in Belarus also urged prayers for migrants and refugees.

“At a time when a real humanitarian crisis is unfolding on the borders of our country, let us cover with prayer the people who belong to the most vulnerable group: migrants and refugees,” said the appeal on the Church’s website, Catholic.by.

Poland, a central European country with a population of 38 million, sent troops to secure the border with Belarus after a record number of migrants crossed in the summer.

Polish officials argue that Belarus, a landlocked Eastern European country with a population of 9.5 million, is fomenting the crisis in response to sanctions imposed by the EU after Lukashenko declared victory in a disputed presidential election in August 2020 and cracked down on protesters.

The border crisis has also affected Latvia and Lithuania, both of which are EU member states neighboring Belarus.

Poland’s defense minister Mariusz Błaszczak said on Nov. 10 that “there were many attempts to breach the Polish border” overnight.

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel has appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Lukashenko’s ally, to intervene to end the crisis.

The Catholic Church in Poland will hold a collection this month for migrants caught in the standoff at the border.

“I turn to the faithful and all people of goodwill with a request for a nationwide fundraising — on Sunday, Nov. 21 in all churches and chapels, through Caritas Poland — for migrants from the Belarusian-Polish border,” Archbishop Gądecki said in a homily at Mass in the Polish capital, Warsaw, on Nov. 5.

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