Vital Rymasheuski: Moscow may strengthen control over Belarusian Orthodox Church
12:41, — religion
Whether the situation in Belarusian Orthodox Church will change depends not only on the new metropolitan, but on priests and believers.
This is how a co-chairman of the organizational committee for creation of the party Belarusian Christian Democracy Vital Rymasheuski commented for the charter97.org web-site on the latest decision by Russian Orthodox Church’s synod.
“Usually Orthodox Church’s top hierarchs do not leave their positions until their death. Hierarch Filaret has had health problems in recent years. It is absolutely obvious that his decision to leave the position of the Metropolitan of Minsk and Slutsk was absolutely voluntary. It was difficult for him to carry out his duties.
From the point of view of a Belarusian Orthodox Church believer, it seems to me more preferable for a Belarusian bishop to become the metropolitan. Whole Filaret’s service showed that he respectfully treated church traditions of Belarusians as well as national. Services in Belarusian started with him, translations of ecclesiastical literature into the Belarusian language appeared. He appointed bishops of Belarusian origin. A number of hierarchs emerged with him, who were born and lived in our country, were its citizens. We will hope that the new metropolitan will continue the traditions”, - Vital Rymasheuski claimed.
At the same time the politician noted that the decision to appoint a Russian hierarch as the Metropolitan of Minsk and Slutsk may be a sign of an attempt to strengthen the control over Belarusian Orthodox Church on the part of Moscow.
“Of course, this nomination was agreed with Moscow patriarchate and was appointed by the Synod of Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. Of course, his personality and his position will increase Moscow’s control over Belarusian Orthodox Church. Whether it will be the case – time will show. This all depends on the personality of the metropolitan himself and the whole Orthodox Church in the Republic of Belarus – from believers, from priests, from bishops. In any case, such attempts will not be very aggressive. The example of Ukraine, where the Orthodox Church split along ethnic lines, showed that it cannot be brutally used for someone’s own purposes. Russian Orthodox Church established an exarchate in Belarus - this is a form of autonomous governance. It is exceptional in the post-Soviet region. This was the recognition of Belarusian Orthodox Church’s unique identity. That is why whether the situation will change does not depend so much on the new metropolitan but on the situation within the church. It should be noted that in the years of independence it made a big step towards being Belarusian, despite the odious nature of particular priests.
By the way, that Belarusian Orthodox Church did not directly submit to the country’s authoritarian rulers gave it more freedom in its activities for Moscow was still far. I can remember a case when the official press-service of Minsk eparchy condemned a slanderous article about Belarusian Christian Democracy and by fact supported it. This happened, among other, due to the church not being controlled by Lukashenka, while Moscow’s control is very relative.
Nevertheless, the fact that a priest from Russia has been appointed the metropolitan, was unfortunately absolutely predictable. Russian authorities too secure themselves, who has recently often tried to influence Russian Orthodox Church. I will repeat that again, I would not make signle-valued predictions. Metropolitan Filaret was Russian too, but did probably more for the development of Belarusian Orthodox Church than Belarusians could. Let’s wait and see. Much depends on us”, - Vital Rymasheuski stated.
We would remind that today the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church satisfied the request of the Metropolitan of Minsk and Slutsk for retirement.