Orthodox Belarus under the Omophorion of many years of the archpastoral service of Metropolitan Philaret, emeritus Patriarchal Exarch of all Belarus
Metropolitan Philaret (secular name is Kirill Varfolomeyevich Vakhromeev, was born on March 21, 1935, Moscow) is the Orthodox Church figure of Belarus.
Since October 16, 1989 Kirill Vakhromeev has been Patriarchal Exarch of all Belarus, a permanent member of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church and a Chairman of the Synod of the Belarusian Exarchate.
Since 1992 – Metropolitan of Minsk and Slutsk, Patriarchal Exarch of all Belarus, an archimandrite of the Holy Dormition Monastery of Zhyrovichy.
Since 2013 – emeritus Patriarchal Exarch of all Belarus.
The visit of Philaret in Belarus became a harbinger of things to come in the church.
The revival of historic cathedras began due to the influence of Metropolitan Philaret in Belarus. It happened in Polotsk, Pinsk and Mogilev in October of 1989; in Gomel and Brest in the January of 1990; in Novogrudok and Grodno in the October of 1991; in Turov and Vitebsk in the May of 1992. The Belarusian Exarchate was established in 1989. It brought all the eparchies together into a united administrative structure of the church.
This year the Convent of St. Euphrosyne in Polotsk and the Convent of Nativity of the Theotokos in Grodno were given back to the church; Minsk Theological Seminary in Zhirovichi resumed classes on September 1, 1989.
The most important sign of the booming church is a number of active Orthodox churches and cloisters in Belarus. Today the Belarusian Exarchate numbers 1582 meeting houses, in which 1655 priests provide vicarial duties. There are 32 monasteries, 54 friaries, 113 sisterhoods, 7 religious educational institutions in the Belarusian Orthodox Church. The monasteries provide an educational, charitable and missionary activity.
A significant event in Belarus was the re-creation of the ancient relics, some spiritual symbols of the White Russia which are the Cross of St. Euphrosyne, the abbess of Polotsk, and her silver shrine. The image of the Cross, renewed by modern master Nikolai Kuzmich, was triumphantly brought to the Savior and St. Euphrosyne Cathedral in Polotsk in 1997. The consecration of the restored shrine, where her incorruptible relics repose, took place on the Saint’s Memorial Day in 2007.
A number of the recent canonizations became a welcome development in the lives of believers in Belarus. They represent the vitality of the church and understanding of its historical past.
On June 12, 2003 the basic Agreement on cooperation between the Republic of Belarus and the Belarusian Orthodox Church was signed. It laid the foundation for further cooperation between the church and the state. Programmes of cooperation of the Belarusian Orthodox Church with a number of ministries are being realized: the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, Education Ministry, the Ministry of Information, the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Ministry of Defence, Emergency Situations Ministry, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, the Ministry of Sports and Tourism; the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, Belarusian State University, the State Committee of Border-Security Forces, the Committee on Problems of the Accident at Chernobyl NPP under the Council of Ministers, the Committee on Aviation, the National State TV and Radio Company, six regional executive committees and the Minsk City Executive Committee.
The areas of cooperation between the state and the church are spiritual, moral, patriotic upbringing and education of children and youth, peace-making, mercy and charity, concern for strengthening the moral and physical health, support for the institution of the family, motherhood and childhood, protection, restoration and enhancement of historical and cultural heritage, environmental conservation, care of the military and the people who are in places of deprivation of liberty.
General Director of the National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus
and the Honored Artist of the Republic of Belarus