Metropolitan Filaret retires after 35 years of heading Belarusian Orthodox Church (updated)

Moscow, December 25, Interfax – Metropolitan Filaret of Minsk and Slutsk is retiring having reached the age of 75. The decision was made at a Wednesday session of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow.

Earlier the metropolitan submitted a letter of resignation, the press service of Patriarch Kirill reports.

Members of the Holy Synod thanked the metropolitan for 35 years of leadership of the church in Belarus which as the report says were marked by the formation of ten bishoprics, a manifold increase in the number of parishes, the opening of new monasteries and theological schools, the launch of a friendly and constructive dialogue with the authorities and public organizations, and maintenance of a due standard of interreligious relations.

From now on Metropolitan Filaret will become the honorary Patriarchal Exarch in Belarus. He will also keep his right to take part in the work of the Holy Synod and his seat at church services and official ceremonies while the current Metropolitan of Ryazan and Mikhailov Pavel will become the head of the Belarusian Orthodox Church.

The Holy Synod thanked Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko for his readiness to guarantee due living conditions and medical services to Metropolitan Filaret.

Metropolitan Filaret was born as Kirill Vakhromeyev in Moscow on March 21, 1935. He became the head of the Belarusian metropolis in October 1978 becoming the Patriarchal Exarch in Western Europe. In April 1981 he was appointed chairman of the Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate and in October 1989 – the Patriarchal Exarch in Belarus.