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02 November 2020, 14:35

Lukashenko: More Catholic priests should be trained in Belarus

MINSK, 2 November (BelTA) – It is necessary to step up the training of Catholic priests in Belarus, so that there will be no need to invite them from abroad, President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with Metropolitan Veniamin of Minsk and Zaslavl, Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus, on 2 November, BelTA informs.

“We have built many churches and sometimes we do not have enough clergy for them. This pertains not only to the Eastern Orthodox Church. However, the Eastern Orthodox Church does not bring the clergy from abroad, from unfriendly countries, as it happens with some faiths. I spoke about it with the Pope (both the former and the present). How can we now receive the clergy from Poland, when the purely Catholic Polish state has taken such a stance towards Belarus? This is not okay,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The president believes that Belarus should “train its Catholic clergy more intensively”. According to him, this question was addressed to Pope Benedict XVI. “We will insist on this,” the head of state stressed.

The higher theological educational institution of the Belarusian Orthodox Church, Minsk Theological Seminary, is located in Zhirovichi. Minsk Theological Academy operates in the Belarusian capital, but the future of this institution has not been decided yet. There are proposals to relocate it to Zhirovichi. The head of state supports this idea.

“Zhirovichi is a perfect place for training the clergy. We need to study this matter together with the church. It is quite easy to relocate an educational institution – it just takes one decision, but the place this institution is relocated to should have the necessary facilities. Much has been done there. We need to see what else we should do to meet the needs of a new flow of the clergy we will train. These are educational and laboratory classes, lecture halls, decent dormitories - like in universities. Therefore, we should examine the possibility of relocation. If you agree with it, we are ready to lend a helping hand, because personnel are at the core of everything. Churches only make sense when they have people who work there,” the president added.

The head of state noted that in some parishes of the Belarusian Orthodox Church there are no senior priests, thus priests from other churches have to come there to work part-time. “People want a clergyman to be there all the time like a spiritual doctor,” he stressed.

The Metropolitan explained that this happens in small villages that cannot afford a priest.

“If so, we should help. A priest has never been a burden for the state. Therefore, we need to think it over. If a village is really small, it does not make sense to keep a clergyman there. Let him have a bigger parish - for example, within the village council. We need to come to grips with it, and we are ready to get involved. We should resolve the problem of the shortage of the clergy in the five-year period. We should have no problems with personnel,” the head of state noted.

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