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Dioceses

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There are 619 Catholic parishes in the Republic of Belarus, which are united in 4 dioceses. In 1991 the diocese of Minsk-Mahilyow, the diocese of Pinsk and the diocese of Hrodna were established, while in 1990 the diocese of Vitebsk was created. At present, the head of the diocese of Minsk-Mahilyow is Archbishop Metropolitan Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz (since September 21st, 2007), the head of the diocese of Pinsk is Cardinal Kazimierz Swiatek (since April 13th, 1991), the head of the diocese of Hrodna is Bishop Aliaksandr Kashkevich (since June 20th, 1991), and the head of the diocese of Vitebsk is Bishop Wladyslaw Blin (since November 20th, 1999). In April 1999 the Apostolic See created the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Belarus. Its chairman until June, 2006 was Cardinal Kazimierz Swiatek. Currently it is presided over by Bishop Aliaksandr Kashkevich. 9 Catholic missions and 9 monastic communities work in the country.

Roman Catholic communities possess 451 churches, 35 are under construction. In 2008 erection of 2 new churches was finished. 407 priests work in the Catholic parishes in the Republic of Belarus, 168 of whom are foreign citizens (including 161 priests from the Republic of Poland). In 2008, 18 Neo-Presbyterian priests were ordained to the ministry.

Altogether, the number of Roman Catholics in the Republic of Belarus totals 1 402 605 people. Distribution of believers among the dioceses is as follows: the diocese of Minsk-Mahilyow — 610 490, the diocese of Pinsk — 50 115, the diocese of Hrodna — 591 000, the diocese of Vitebsk — 151 000.

The Higher Theological Seminary of the diocese of Hrodna has been operating since 1990; 168 persons became its graduates. The Theological Seminary in Pinsk has been operating since 2001 and has prepared 12 priests.

The Roman Catholic Church carries out a broad publishing activity. Thus, the diocese of Minsk-Mahilyow publishes the magazines «Nasha Vera» (Our Faith), «Ave Maria» and the newsletter «Katalitskiya naviny» (Catholic News). The diocese of Pinsk prints the magazine «Dyaloh» (Dialogue). In Hrodna, the diocesan newspaper «Slova zhytsia» (The Word of Life) in the Belarusian, Russian and Polish languages is published.

The Catholic publishing house «Pro Christo» publishes religious literature in the Belarusian language. On Sundays, the Belarusian radio broadcasts Holy Masses held in the Belarusian language from the Archcathedral Catholic Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Minsk, republican television broadcasts Christmas and Easter divine services from the Catholic churches of the country, on a number of occasions fragments of holiday divine services from the Vatican are broadcast live.

On March 1st, 2008 the Roman Catholic Church in the Republic of Belarus participated in a space bridge devoted to the VI European Student Day with participation of the Pope of Rome Benedict XVI and youth from 14 countries of the world.

The Roman Catholic Church is actively engaged in charity. An asylum for 50 people was established in Gomel, where Mother Teresa's Sisters of Charity work. Branches of the Caritas charitable organisation operate at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference in Belarus as well as in all the dioceses of the country, rendering considerable aid to those in need. Charitable organisations of the Roman Catholic Church actively cooperate with institutions of social protection of the population.

The annual Interconfessional Festival of Church Music «Mahutny Bozha» (God Almighty) in Mahilyow has become a tradition. Since 2005, with the assistance of local authorities, the International Film Festival «Magnificat» has been held in Vitebsk region.

In June, 2008 Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, paid a visit to Belarus and was received by the Head of State. During the meeting questions and perspectives of development of the Roman Catholic Church in Belarus were discussed.

The Roman Catholic Church maintains constructive relations with the Belarusian Orthodox Church and other confessions and religious streams. On February 26th, 2009 Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz was elected deputy chairman of the Interconfessional Consulting Council at the Commissioner on religious and nationality matters, consisting of heads of religious associations of the republic. The council is called to promote the development of interconfessional dialogue in our country, stir up the cooperation between the state and religious organisations in the sphere of finding solutions to socially-significant questions.

 
II International Meeting of «Caritas Belarus» partners in Minsk

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