Catholic World Report

Belarus bishop offers Mass for Chernobyl victims on 35th anniversary of nuclear disaster

By Courtney Mares for CNA

Archbishop Kondrusiewicz prays outside the Akrestsin Street pre-trial detention center in Minsk, Aug. 19, 2020. Credit:

Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz offered Mass for Chernobyl victims to mark the 35th anniversary of the nuclear disaster.

The archbishop emeritus of Minsk rang a memorial bell 35 times following the Sunday Mass for all who died or suffered health problems due to the Chernobyl disaster on April 26, 1986.

“It was the largest man-made disaster in human history. We feel its effects today,” Kondrusiewicz said.

“Our people, as well as others, especially neighboring Ukraine and Russia, have been fighting a radioactive pandemic for three and a half decades,” he said, according to, the website of the Catholic Church in Belarus.

Thousands died of radiation-related illnesses, such as cancer, in the 35 years following the explosion of a reactor at a nuclear power plant in Chernobyl in the former Soviet republic of Ukraine.

The meltdown took place only six miles from Ukraine’s border with Belarus, where an estimated 70% of the radioactive fallout from the disaster landed contaminating agricultural land and affecting at least 7 million people.

Archbishop Kondrusiewicz expressed gratitude for the doctors and humanitarian organizations that have offered assistance and medical care to victims.

The Catholic charity, Caritas Belarus, is among the charitable groups that have worked to improve the health of people who still endure the effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster today.

“The Church also took care of the spiritual care of the victims, where it was possible,” he added.

Pope Francis accepted Kondrusiewicz’s resignation earlier this year shortly after the archbishop was permitted to return to Belarus after a four-month enforced exile.

Kondrusiewicz, who had spoken out after Belarus’ disputed presidential election in August led to nationwide protests, promised at his farewell mass that he would remain active in his ministry as bishop emeritus.

The “Nagasaki bell” in the churchyard of the parish of St. Simon and St. Helen, where Kondrusiewicz offered Mass on April 25, was built as a memorial for all victims of nuclear radiation.

“The nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as the Chernobyl disaster turned the world upside down, ” Kondrusiewicz said.

“We remember the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Chernobyl, Fukushima and other catastrophes, not to open unhealed wounds, but to prevent similar tragedies in the future,” he said.

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