Sunday, January 30, 2011

Catholics, Orthodox in Belarus celebrate Christian unity week

Catholic leaders in Belarus renowned the annual week devoted to Christian unity by meeting and breaking bread with local heads of Orthodox, Lutheran and other other Christian denominations.

From January 18 – 25, Christians around the globe noticeable the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity, a time when members from various denominations usually meet to pray together for union efforts among the faithful.

In Minsk, the capital of Belarus, Catholic Archbishop Kondrusiewicz and Orthodox Metropolitan Filaret of Minsk and Sluzk hosted a variety of initiatives, including daily prayer with Belarusians from frequent Christian backgrounds and traditions.

At a joint celebration on Jan. 22, at the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Minsk, Catholics, Orthodox, Eastern Catholics, Lutherans and Christians of other denominations gathered to pray, preach and representatively share a great loaf of bread.

In a Jan. 20 dialogue with global charity Aid to the Church in Need, Archbishop Kondrusiewicz remembered the words of Pope John Paul II, who said the churches in East and West were like two divide “lungs” and that "Europe must breathe again with both lungs."

The archbishop said that not only do all the Christian denominations “share the wish for unity,” but that they also seek conversation with the Jewish and Muslim communities as well.

Archbishop Kondrusiewicz said that the association between the Orthodox and the Catholic Churches is very peaceful and cordial. The Orthodox Church accounts for approximately 80 percent of the citizens of Belarus, while 14 percent or around 300,000 are Catholics.

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