Faith strengthens greatly spiritual and cultural space
“In our country, the relationship between secular and spiritual power is built on harmonious union; we work together for the good of the Fatherland. Belarus is successfully developing co-operation with our Orthodox Church,” emphasised the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, on meeting the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Kirill, in Minsk
By Vasily Kharitonov
“Another indication of these good relations is the opening in Minsk of a monument to Patriarch Alexy II — a wise pastor, who is the salt of the Earth and a light in the world; we highly appreciate him, as you do. Your visit is evidence of this,” noted the President. “Thank you for having shared your joy with Belarus in this celebration. You are a true and reliable friend of our country, as is proven by your support of us in the most difficult situations.”
The President also congratulated Patriarch Kirill on feast of the Holy Protection of Our Most Holy Lady Theotokos while Patriarch Kirill stressed that the Russian Orthodox Church, throughout its thousand years and more of history, has united those it has nourished, creating a spiritual and cultural environment, which is now called the space of historical Russia or Holy Russia. He continued, “In the 20th and 21st centuries, it seems we live in different states. Nations choose their sovereign organisation of public life and the church respects. However, it also aims to preserve spirituality and culture for historic Holy Russia. One does not contradict the other. On the contrary, in taking care of your state through sovereignty, economics, social relations and improved political relations, you should simultaneously promote spiritual, moral and cultural elements — for individuals and society. The Russian Orthodox Church can help with this.”
Patriarch Kirill expressed warm words for the development of modern Belarus and its capital, Minsk, saying, “Every time I come to Belarus, I see something new. This makes me very happy. Today is another such day: joyful and bright, almost spring like — being sunny, with a blue sky. Against the background of this landscape, Minsk and its surroundings look especially lovely, boasting space, fresh air, pure nature and wonderful people. This wealth greatly determines the quality of human life.”
He also voiced the support of the Russian Orthodox Church in CIS integration processes, noting, “I am deeply convinced that the Russian Orthodox Church is essential in maintaining good and brotherly relations between our peoples. Today, we are concerned with integration in the CIS and have seen success over recent years. Since our last meeting, much has occurred for the better and, with God’s support, everyone will benefit: economically, politically, culturally and spiritually. The church will support and inspire people, always emphasising the importance of fraternity. We should live together with respect for the sovereignty of each country and its historical choices.”
Mr. Lukashenko awarded the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia with the Order of Peoples’ Friendship: for his significant contribution to supporting the Union and strengthening friendly relations and unity between the peoples of Russia and Belarus. He stressed his authority as a spiritual leader and social activist, making a significant contribution to the renewal of Orthodoxy and the strengthening of its social role in contemporary life. “Your desire to preserve the unity of the Russian Orthodox Church and our Slavic brotherhood is worthy of high praise, meeting the aspirations of the people of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine,” said Mr. Lukashenko.
The President of Belarus noted that sincere personal relationships connect him with Patriarch Kirill. “I have always respected the Orthodox Church and its clergy. Historically, you have led this rapid flow of life, with the church attacked from left and right. I’m delighted that you face this with dignity and should note that we can learn from you how best to react and respond to such situations.”
Taking the Order, Patriarch Kirill noted that the award is an apt symbol of the Orthodox Church’s mission. “The aim of the Church is to transform the soul, liberating from sin and encouraging brotherhood,” he stressed, noting that the peoples of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine have a common past and future. Unveiling the monument to the previous Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Alexy II, near Minsk’s Church of All Saints, he asserted, “Belarus, Russia and Ukraine are three fraternal peoples, tied by a single fate, a common past and, I’m sure, a common future. I came with a joyful feeling to the Belarusian land during feast of the Holy Protection of Our Most Holy Lady Theotokos.” He added that Holy Russia is associated with the Blessed Virgin due to its many trials and troubles — as suffered by the peoples of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.
“It is remarkable that this monument is erected here, in Minsk. This is a sign of gratitude from the Belarusian Church and the Belarusian people to the late Patriarch,” he said. After the opening ceremony, all those present were given small icons in honour of the Blessed Virgin.
As reported, the visit of the Patriarch coincides with the 400th anniversary of the Krupetskii Icon of the Mother of God. Originally, the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church was to lead mass at the Holy Protection Church, built in Minsk on the site where the icon appeared. However, the programme was changed, with the service led by the Metropolitan Filaret, the Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus. The service was also attended by several Belarusian bishops.
After the opening of the monument, Patriarch Kirill consecrated the building site of an experimental school at the House of Mercy.