Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Church in Belarus: more equal than others?

(Belarus Digest) - On 4 July the president of the Papal Inter-Religious Committee from Vatican, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, met with Alexander Lukashenka in Minsk. During the meeting Belarusian authorities tried to convince the Vatican’s representative that all 25 religious denominations present in Belarus live in peace and enjoy freedom. However, as Lukashenka made clear, only Orthodox Church has a leading role for the Belarusian society.

Top Belarusian politicians and Orthodox hierarchs often underline that the Eastern Christian rite laid a cornerstone for the Belarusian nationhood. But many are concerned that the Orthodox Church goes too much hand in hand with the Belarusian authorities and in many ways legitimizes the authoritarian regime.

Recently the Orthodox Church in Belarus publicly expressed its position on many society-related issues such as saying ‘no’ to the capital punishment. This signifies that the Church wants to become a real moral authority for Belarusians. The question might be, however, how independent can the Orthodox Church be, considering its canonical structure and dependency upon Moscow.

Metropolit Filaret: the Orthodoxy as a spiritual-cultural foundations of Slavic nations

Metropolit Filaret, born in Moscow in 1935 as Kirill Varfolomeyevich Vakhromeev, remains the highest hierarch in the Belarusian Orthodox Church. He was educated at the theological seminary in Moscow. In 1978 Filaret became a Metropolit of Minsk and All Belarusian Soviet Republic. In 1989 following the demise of the USSR and creation of an independent Belarus, he became the head of the Belarusian Orthodox Church.

The figure of Filaret arouses controversy. On the one hand, he remains popular due to his religious activity and attempts to revive the Orthodox Church in Belarus. He initiated translation of the New Testament into Belarusian. He also revived a number of monasteries. And finally, he founded the first Theological Academy in Belarus. That won him respect of many people.

At the same time many criticise Metropolit Filaret’s passivity when it comes to the human rights violations in Belarus. According to their logic, Church claiming to have a leading role for the society cannot remain silent about human rights violation...
Complete article here.

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