Belarus – Alexander Lukashenko meets with Cardinal Koch, Metropolitan Filaret

15/11/2011

There are no inter-confessional conflicts in Belarus. The country may serve as a model of good relations between different religions, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said as he met with Kurt Koch, Chairman of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and Metropolitan Filaret on 14 November.

“Belarus is the place which can serve as a model of good relations between various religions. We have neither religious nor national discords,” the President emphasized.

“I do not think there has ever been a clash or even a dispute on religious grounds in Belarus. We have always solved issues with dignity,” the head of state noted.

According to Alexander Lukashenko, peaceful coexistence of the two confessions is the merit of Metropolitan Filaret and top officials of the Catholic Church. “I appreciate that. I am glad that in recent years the two confessions have developed amicable, even fraternal relations,” the President stressed.

When speaking about the international conference, which is taking place in Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko noted that Belarus cannot recollect if the two churches have ever discussed the problem of Christian values at such level. The head of state emphasized that since the first days of independence Belarus has made Christian values the cornerstone of its moral values.

Alexander Lukashenko reminded that Belarus’ government and the Belarusian Orthodox Church entered into agreement long ago. Similar agreement between Belarus and the Roman-Catholic Church is in the pipeline.

When addressing Cardinal Kurt Koch, Alexander Lukashenko said that he expects the Vatican to take a more active position on the protection of the interests of Belarus in the West.

“We would like to see the Catholic Church and personally Pope Benedict XVI to do more to protect our interests, especially in the West,” the President said. “We do not accept the policy which Europe is pursuing against Belarus now. This is abnormal. We therefore look forward to a more active position of the Catholic Church on this issue,” Alexander Lukashenko said.

“The Church is perhaps the most impartial universal body in today’s unjust world. I would like the Church to say its word in defense of justice,” he added.

Alexander Lukashenko thanked the Roman-Catholic Church for the support it provides to Belarus on the international arena. Alexander Lukashenko asked the Cardinal to convey the best wishes of strong health and every success in his noble mission to Pope Benedict XVI on behalf of the Belarusian people and himself.

Cardinal Kurt Koch, in turn, lauded the fact that the two confessions coexist peacefully in Belarus. “I am grateful for the friendly atmosphere between the confessions,” he said. “This is my first visit to Belarus and for me it was a great pleasure to see churches full of people. It indicates that not only religion but also the faith of people are alive,” according to Kurt Koch. The Cardinal thanked the Belarusian leadership for the dialogue established between the state and the church. “I will do my best to communicate everything that I have seen here to the Vatican,” he said.

Metropolitan of Minsk and Slutsk Filaret, Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus, hailed the international conference as an important event in the religious and cultural life of Belarus and Europe. “Our objective is to forge ties between the church and society and support the dialogue between representatives of various religious traditions,” he said.

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