Opening church doors

Whether Orthodox, Catholic, or any other faith denomination, a church’s doors should be always open

Whether Orthodox, Catholic, or any other faith denomination, a church’s doors should be always open, as Leonid Gulyako, the Commissioner for Religions and Nationalities, noted recently

At present, 25 religious confessions and denominations are registered in Belarus, while there are 3,482 religious organisations. Of these, 168 are of common confessional value, 45 are religious associations, 36 are missions, 44 are cloisters, 16 are communities, 10 are sisterhoods, and 17 are spiritual schools. More than 200 national-cultural associations are operational.  

2014 saw several bright forums take place: Religion and Education in Secular Societies — an international conference organised by the National Academy of Sciences; the 4th European Orthodox-Catholic Forum, in Minsk; and the 10th Republican Festival of National Cultures, in Grodno. All provided successful examples of public, international and inter-religious dialogue. The adoption of the Law ‘On Belarusians in Foreign Countries’ is of fundamental importance.

Our state endeavours to preserve and enhance the spiritual heritage of our people, supporting a significant part of the material care of places of worship, viewing them as monuments of national history and culture. The new Orthodox Spiritual Centre in Minsk is almost ready to open its doors, funded in part by the state. Meanwhile, so far, 31 registered religious communities have been given land free of charge on which to build religious buildings.

The maintenance of traditional tolerance and mutual respect in Belarusian society, and the prevention of discrimination or intolerance on religious or national grounds, are a priority for Belarus. Church doors may never close, but we are all responsible for opening them.

By Olga Govorova
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