Aleksandr Lukashenko meets with Metropolitan of Minsk and Slutsk Pavel

    Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko is in favor of the active participation of the church in state affairs. Aleksandr Lukashenko made the relevant statement as he met with Metropolitan of Minsk and Slutsk, Patriarchal Exarch of all Belarus Pavel on 5 May.

    The President stressed that the church had played a colossal role in the Belarusian society. “The church has not actually been barred from state affairs. You know my point of view. I don’t think that the church is something outside the state. Contrariwise, I would like the church to take an active part in state affairs while certainly staying delicate and careful. We even learn the ways to work like that from the church,” noted Aleksandr Lukashenko.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that Metropolitan Pavel had already had an opportunity to get familiar with the state of affairs and examine the situation in the country. “A fresh look from the outside is very important for us. You are an experienced man. From the point of view of our orthodox Slavonic soul you can evaluate how we live and work here, maybe something is missing, maybe a piece of advice is needed,” remarked the head of state.

    The President also remarked that good relations between the state and the church have been a tradition in Belarus. “If in addition to our plans, in addition to the system we use to interact with our Slavonic church we could help with something, we will be pleased to do it,” assured the Belarusian leader. “It is not just work to enhance the state image. Totally not. We do it because the church has played a very important role in Belarus’ recent history”.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that the communist ideology that existed in Soviet years was not always effective, yet it existed and steered the thinking of people to an extent. “When the Soviet Union collapsed, the ideology did the same. By the way, not everything was bad and it was particularly true with regard to national relations. They managed to keep the union — a huge country, nearly half the world — together somehow. But I would like to stress one more time that there were many unacceptable things, too,” said the President.

    After the Soviet Union collapse “we are still trying to build something ideology-wise,” said the President. “Nothing sensible comes out of it for now. I can admit that. We cannot accomplish that not because we cannot write some tractate. We can do it using what has been done already starting with the Bible and ending with the communist ideology, which by the way borrowed heavily from the Bible. Our inability is not the reason we cannot accomplish that. People have yet to accept it,” believes the head of state.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko explained that in these conditions it would be natural to resort to traditional Orthodox and Christian values, moreover, the communist ideology used a lot of the things preached by the clergy. “We didn’t scrap anything, we didn’t force people. We just offered our own road to the temple and used the other postulates of our church. The state and the church just acted together without making arrangements but still moving in the right direction,” said the Belarusian leader.

    The President said he was confident that in the future the church will find its place in the society and will play an active role.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko also remarked that he regularly participates in the resolution of problems that involve the church. Very tight cooperation has been established in relations between the church and the state. “We have done a lot in this regard in a calm and silent manner,” said the head of state.

    Apart from that, Aleksandr Lukashenko mentioned the high level of support for the church in the Belarusian society. “The church has always been ranked second after the president. It was not always like this. The army and the church stand together [as far as their ratings are concerned],” said the President. “Therefore, I always pay tribute to our church without making it support the authorities in public and so on. People will understand what and how should be done on their own, particularly in religious matters”.

    In turn, Metropolitan Pavel thanked Aleksandr Lukashenko for understanding and for his view on the church’s importance for the nation. “I am sincerely glad that today such beautiful relations have been created between the church and the state in this prosperous country,” said Metropolitan Pavel. He praised his predecessor’s tribute to the accomplishment.

    Metropolitan Pavel stressed: “It is correct that there is cooperation nowadays, the church doesn’t interfere with state affairs and the state doesn’t interfere with church affairs. But together a lot can be done”.