MINSK, July 4 (Itar-Tass) - Belarusian authorities have managed to ensure peaceful coexistence of people espousing different religions, President Alexander Lukashenko said Thursday.
“A total of 25 registered religious denominations exist in Belarus and we’ve done our best to assure inter-denominational peace and stability,” he said Thursday at a meeting with the president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran.
Cardinal Tauran came to this country to take part in the festivities devoted to the 400th anniversary since the arrival in Belarus of the icon of the Virgin Mary of Budslav.
Alexander Lukashenko recalled that the Russian Orthodox Church has the biggest congregation in this country while the Roman Catholic Church is denomination number two.
“I’m really glad to state that both denominations have tapped the ways for developing cooperation,” he said adding that the Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches in Belarus maintain a fruitful and useful relationship.
Lukashenko stressed the big efforts to benefit different Churches that have been made here recently. For instance, the government has taken a decision to build a Roman Catholic spiritual education center.
“We don’t have any irresolvable problems and I’d like to ask you to convey my assurances to Pope Francis that the Roman Catholic Church will continue occupying a dignified position in Belarus,” he said.
Jean-Louis Tauran said this is the first time he is visiting Belarus. “It’s interesting for me to get familiarized with reality on the spot and to see how the dialogue of denominations is progressing,” he said.
July 5-6, solemn ceremonies will be held in the town of Budslav in the Minsk region on the occasion of the 400th anniversary since the arrival of the Budslav icon of the Virgin May in Belarus. This festival is destined to become one of the most significant Roman Catholic feasts this year.
The Virgin Mary of Budslav is one of the most highly venerated icons of Our Lady in the Roman Catholic community in Eastern Europe. The Vatican has acknowledged the immense healing power of prayers in front of it.
Thousands upon thousands of pilgrims from all over Belarus and other East-European countries come to Budslav every year. This year alone, the local authorities expect some 45,000 visitors.