Pope accepts resignation of Minsk archbishop
Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of the Catholic Archbishop of Minsk, the Vatican said on Sunday, after he spoke out against the Belarus government and violence against protestors.
Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz was allowed to return to Belarus last month after being stopped from re-entering the country since August following a holiday in Poland where he called for the resignation of Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko.
It was not immediately clear whether Kondrusiewicz's resignation was expected.
The Vatican said in a short statement that the resignation was in accordance with a code that allows bishops to retire at age 75.
While in Poland, Kondrusiewicz, who is a Belarus citizen, gave an interview to a radio station calling for an end to police violence against protesters and demanding the resignation of strongman Lukashenko, who in August won re-election in a vote the opposition said was rigged.
Lukashenko, who faces ongoing protests by the opposition against his rule, accused Kondrusiewicz in November of plotting to "destroy the country".
On Sunday, leading Belarus opposition figure Svetlana Tikhanovskaya -- whose supporters say was the true winner of the presidential election -- wrote on Twitter that the archbishop would preside over his last Sunday service later that day.
"Belarusians have been truly blessed" to be under his guidance "during this difficult time", wrote Tikhanovskaya, who remains in Lithuania after fleeing Belarus following the election.