By Victor Khmelevsky
Mr. Lukashenko focused on the fact that Belarus is home to 25 peacefully co-existing confessions. He expressed satisfaction that the two leading churches, Orthodox and Catholic, ‘have found ways to develop co-operation’ and characterised these relations as constructive and useful to the state. He added that, recently, the state has built several churches, including one Roman Catholic, and the Catholic Educational Centre.
“No issues are unsolvable. I’d like to ask you to tell the Pope that the Catholic confession will always enjoy a worthy place in Belarus,” said the President, emphasising that our citizens will continue to enjoy their right to exercise their religious beliefs. Cardinal Tauran conveyed the Pope’s blessings to all Belarusians, saying, “I met with the Pope before coming to your country and he conveyed his best wishes and blessings to all Belarusians.”
The cardinal emphasised that his diplomatic career has lasted for 28 years, giving him the chance to meet representatives of many countries. “It is important to have meaningful dialogue between representatives of confessions and states,” noted the Cardinal. “Therefore, we are glad to hear that all confessions co-exist in peace and consent in Belarus. It is vital to have religion in our hearts in today’s world, because citizens of any country have two main obligations: as citizens and as church members.”
The President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue emphasised that this was his first trip to Belarus and that he was finding it fascinating to discover the real situation in the country and to see dialogue between confessions in Belarus.
Jean-Louis Tauran is a well-known and respected Papal legate, who arrived in Belarus for celebrations devoted to the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the Budslav Icon of the Mother of God in Belarus.
The celebrations took place in Budslav from 5th-6th July. The holiday has become the most significant for Catholics in Belarus this year, as the Budslav Icon of the Mother of God is one of the most revered icons and is famous for its miracles. Every year, pilgrims from Belarus and abroad come to see this icon. The state gave much support to the Catholic Church in making holiday preparations, with funds allocated to restore the Roman Catholic Church in Budslav. Additional trains were launched for pilgrims, and a special stamp is to be introduced.