HEAD OF BELORUSSIAN CHURCH COMMENTS ON TOPIC OF "AUTOCEPHALY"
RIA Novosti, 12 September 2020
The topic of the "autocephalous" Belorussian church is to a certain extent being imposed from the outside; within the church itself there is no demand, the head of the Belorussian Orthodox Church (BPTs), Metropolitan of Minsk and Zaslavl Veniamin, declared.
"This topic is somewhat being imposed on us from the outside; within the church there is no such need," Metropolitan Veniamin said in an interview with RT, commenting on reports to the effect that the opposition within Belorussia has already mentioned autocephaly. The first hierarch of the BPTs said that the history of the past 20th century shows that prerequisites for "Belorussian autocephaly" are absent.
"When this topic has been brought up, as a rule autocephaly is supported by a group of people who, one way or another, do not present themselves quite well here, in the fatherland, and in general are the kind of church organization that was not supported and recognized in that time. Now this is mentioned more by secular people, who hope thereby, apparently, to advance some of their own ideas, desires, and the like. But now there is absolutely no need for this," the metropolitan declared.
He said that "it is necessary to be vigilant and, say, avoid any inclination to raise this topic in one form or another."
Belorussian President Alexander Lukashenko declared earlier that the idea of the opposition about restoring a Belorussian Autocephalous Church threatens an inter-confessional war.
In the metropolitan's opinion, the national factor is not determinative for the Belorussian Orthodox Church and believers, and the main thing is strict adherence to the religious teaching.
"Obviously this is not the main thing. . . . There is a desire in our society that there be more of the Belorussian language and that our national consciousness develop more, but it is not so great as to put it in the forefront. And I would think that it would not be at all good for the church's prospects if only nationality predominates," the patriarchal exarch of all Belarus said.
As an example he cited schoolchildren, for whom what is important is "what kind of teacher one is, whether he teaches well or badly, with love or without love, and other things about how well a person does his job professionally." "In our sphere, the church sphere, professionalism consists in following the teaching of the church, in every detail, precisely, with great care," Metropolitan Veniamin noted.
He called attention to the fact that a previous first hierarch of the BPTs, Metropolitan Filaret, was a "hero of Belorussia, but was born in Moscow, and Belarus was for him as much a motherland as Russia." Metropolitan Filaret headed the Belorussian church from 1990 to 2013.
Earlier the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church released Metropolitan of Minsk and Zaslavl Pavel from his office of patriarchal exarch of all Belarus, appointing to this position Bishop of Borisovo and Maringorsk Veniamin. Metropolitan Pavel was appointed head of the Kuban metropolia. (tr. by PDS, posted 12 September 2020)
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