By Vatican News and L'Osservatore Romano
An article appeared in the Italian edition of L'Osservatore Romano on Wednesday regarding Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher's visit to Belarus.
On Friday, 11 September, Archbishop Gallagher traveled to Belarus. A statement released by the Holy See Press Office that evening said that he had gone there “to show the attention and closeness of the Holy Father to the Catholic Church and the whole country”.
The Archbishop was accompanied by Archbishiop Antonio Mennini, Apostolic Nuncio, and Archbishop Paul Butnaru, Secretary of Nunciature in service at the Section for Relations with States. When they arrived in Minsk, they were welcomed at the airport by the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Sergei Aleinik, and by the temporary Attaché of the Apostolic Nunciature in Belarus, Rev. Maher Chammas.
From there, the Delegation went directly to the headquarters of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where a meeting with Minister Vladimir Makei took place. During the meeting, which lasted about an hour and a half, some of the most important moments of the collaboration between Belarus and the Holy See in the international sphere were recalled, as well as the important contribution of the local Catholic Church to the spiritual growth of the Belarusian people, to their social assistance, to the good inter-religious national coexistence and to the promotion of the cultural identity of the country. Particular attention paid to the best way in which the Catholic Church can continue to carry out its spiritual mission for the benefit of all citizens.
On Saturday, September 12, Archbishop Gallagher met with the Catholic Bishops of Belarus at the Apostolic Nunciature. The meeting allowed, on the one hand, to know more deeply the challenges that Catholic communities and their Pastors are facing and, on the other hand, to show them the concrete closeness and support of the Holy Father. The dialogue was very useful in evaluating together the path that the local Church needs to follow in order to remain faithful to its identity and its evangelical mission, while also making itself an effective instrument of social unity.
In the afternoon, the Delegation made a private visit to the Orthodox Cathedral in Minsk, the adjacent Chapel of the Faculty of Orthodox Theology, and the nearby Catholic Cathedral. The visit gave them the opportunity to discover some details of Belarus' religious history and, above all, of its capacity for spiritual rebirth after the difficult period it lived under atheism.
That evening Archbishop Gallagher met the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs and Ambassador to the Holy See, Mr. Sergei Aleinik in the Apostolic Nunciature. This dialogue allowed them to once again exchange points of view on various themes of national and international importance as well as to to deepen other reflections on some aspects of greater relevance and importance.
On Sunday, 13 September, Archbishop Gallagher celebrated Holy Mass in the chapel of the Apostolic Nunciature. Some Catholic Ambassadors also participated in the celebration. At the end of the liturgy, he briefly greeted those present.
On Sunday afternoon, the Delegation made a private visit to the Memorial Shrine in honor of all the Saints, meeting the Rector of the Shrine, the Most Reverend Archpriest Fyodor Povny. This time the Delegation was able to learn more about the history of the Belarusian people and the richness of their Orthodox Christian tradition.
On Monday, September 14, the Secretary for Relations with States returned to the Vatican.