After protests from the hierarchy and Catholic worshipers in the country, the Minsk, Belarus state daily was condemned by the Information Ministry for publishing cartoons offensive to the clergy.
It all starts September 7, 2021: The state newspaper Minskaja Pravda - The Minsk Truth - published as a cover illustration a fierce caricature of enslaved priests painted as collaborators of the Nazi regime with a swastika on their chest.
The Belarusian Catholic hierarchy was quick to enter a strong protest, along with the apostolic nuncio, Msgr. Ante Jozic, and many faithful, shocked by the treatment meted out to the Catholic priesthood.
A petition to the government was drawn up, stating that “such publications directed against the representatives of the clergy are unacceptable, offensive, and disturbing not only for Catholic priests, but for all Belarusian people.”
According to the authors of the letter, “such things broadcast in state media seem to us to be an attempt to incite religious hostility towards the Catholic Church and her faithful.”
And it noted that the aforementioned cartoons also constitute a violation of the law on freedom of conscience and religious association, punishable by article 130 of the Belarusian penal code which deals with offenses relating to “incitement to religious hatred.”
Taking the Catholics’ protest seriously, the Ministry of Information asked the editorial staff of Minskaja Pravda to adopt measures prevent the repetition of the cartoon affair, given that “such a publication does not preserve interfaith harmony in the country.”
The state media immediately complied, assuring the ministry that “the necessary measures have been taken to prevent such cases in the future.”