Belarusian Greek Catholic Church

Last updated
Belarusian Greek Catholic Church
Classification Eastern Catholic
Governance Apostolic visitor
Pope Francis
Leader Archimandrit Sergiusz Gajek
Priests 16
Parishes 20
Associations Congregation for the Oriental Churches
Region Belarus
Liturgy Byzantine Rite
HeadquartersMarian House, Finchley, England, UK
Origin1596 (first), 1990 (second)
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (first), Belarus (second)
Separated from Ruthenian Orthodox Church (first)
Merger of Union of Brest and Ruthenian Uniate Church (first)
Defunct1839 (first)
Membersc. 12,000
Religions in Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1573:

.mw-parser-output .legend{page-break-inside:avoid;break-inside:avoid-column}.mw-parser-output .legend-color{display:inline-block;min-width:1.25em;height:1.25em;line-height:1.25;margin:1px 0;text-align:center;border:1px solid black;background-color:transparent;color:black}.mw-parser-output .legend-text{}
Catholic

Orthodox

Calvinist Religie w I Rz-plitej 1573.svg
Religions in Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1573:
 Catholic 
 Orthodox 
 Calvinist 
Religions in Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1750:

Latin Catholic

Greek Catholic

Orthodox Religie w I Rz-plitej 1750.svg
Religions in Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1750:
 Latin Catholic 
 Greek Catholic 
 Orthodox 

The Belarusian Greek Catholic Church (Belarusian : Беларуская грэка-каталіцкая царква, Bielaruskaja hreka-katalickaja carkvaBHKC; Latin : Ecclesiae Graecae Catholico Belarusica) sometimes called in reference to its Byzantine Rite liturgy the Belarusian Byzantine Catholic Church, is one of the 23 Eastern Catholic sui iuris particular churches in full communion with the Catholic Church and the Pope of Rome. It is the heir within Belarus to the Union of Brest and Ruthenian Uniate Church.

Contents

History

The Christians who, through the Union of Brest (1595–96), entered full communion with the See of Rome while keeping their Byzantine liturgy in the Church Slavonic language, were at first mainly Belarusian. Even after further Ukrainians joined the Union around 1700, Belarusians still formed about half of the group. According to the historian Anatol Taras, by 1795, around 80% of Christians in Belarus were Greek Catholics, with 14% being Latin Catholics and 8% being Orthodox. [1]

Russian Empire

The partition of Poland–Lithuania and the incorporation of the whole of Belarus into Russia led, according to the Russian Orthodox Church, [2] many Belarusians (1,553 priests, 2,603 parishes and 1,483,111 people) to unite, by March 1795, with the Russian Orthodox Church. Another source [3] seems to contradict this, since it gives the number of parishes that came under Russian rule in 1772 only as "over 800", meaning that many priests and people remained in communion with Rome.

After the unsuccessful 1830-1831 November Uprising against Russian rule and the subsequent removal of the predominantly Catholic local nobility from influence in Belarusian society, the three bishops of the Church, along with 21 priests, [3] [4] convoked in February 1839 a synod that was held in Polatsk on 25 March 1839. This officially brought 1,600,000 Christians and either 1,305 [2] or some 2,500 [3] priests to join the Russian Orthodox Church.

However, some priests and faithful still refused to join. The Russian state assigned most of the property to the Orthodox Church in the 1840s, and some priests emigrated to Austrian Galicia, while others chose to practise in secret the now-forbidden religion.

20th century

When, in 1905, Tsar Nicholas II published a decree granting freedom of religion, as many as 230,000 [4] Belarusians wanted union with Rome. However, since the government refused to allow them to form a Byzantine-Rite community, they joined the Latin Church, to which most Belarusian Catholics now belong.

After the First World War, the western part of Belarus was included in the reconstituted Polish state, and some 30,000 descendants of those who, less than a century before, had joined the Russian Orthodox Church joined the Catholic Church, while keeping their Byzantine liturgy. In 1931, the Holy See sent them a bishop as Apostolic Visitator. After the Soviet Union annexed West Belarus in 1939, an exarch for the Belarusian Byzantine-Rite faithful was appointed in May 1940, but two years later, he was arrested and taken to a Soviet concentration camp, where he died.

Cold War

While from then on very little information about the Byzantine Catholics in Belarus could reach Rome, refugees from among them founded centres in western Europe (Paris, London and Louvain) and in parts of the United States of America, especially in Chicago. From 1947, Leo Haroshka initiated in Paris a pastoral and cultural periodical called Bozhym Shliakham (Божым Шляхам), which was published from 1960 to the end of 1980 in London. In London also, Alexander Nadson began translating the Byzantine liturgical texts into the Belarusian language in the 1970s. Thanks to this work, when in 1990 the first Greek-Catholic parishes could be organized in Belarus, they were able immediately to use these texts in their national language. [5]

In 1960, the Holy See appointed Cheslau Sipovich as Apostolic Visitator for the Belarusian faithful abroad. He was the first Belarusian Catholic bishop since the Synod of Polatsk. A successor, Uladzimir Tarasevich, was appointed in 1983. After his death in 1986, Alexander Nadson was appointed Apostolic Visitator, but not, at his own request, raised to episcopal rank.

Dissolution of the Soviet Union

The 1980s saw a gradual increase in interest among Minsk intellectuals in the Greek-Catholic Church. Articles by Anatol Sidarevich and Jury Khadyka about its history appeared in the 1987-1988 issues of Litaratura i Mastastva . And in the autumn of 1989 some young intellectuals of Minsk decided to publish the periodical Unija intended to promote the rebirth of the Greek-Catholic Church. [5]

In early 1990, Nadson brought humanitarian aid from Belarusians abroad to their compatriots at home still suffering as a result of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. He was surprised to meet young Belarusians who said they were Greek Catholics. On 11 March, he celebrated Minsk's first Divine Liturgy in the national language, and, two days later, had a meeting with the editors of Unija, the first issue of which was then printed in Latvia. [5]

September 1990 saw the registration of the first Greek-Catholic parish since the Second World War, and in early 1991 Jan Matusevich began to celebrate the liturgy in his Minsk apartment. He was later put in charge of all the Greek-Catholic parishes in Belarus, and died in 1998.

Republic of Belarus

By 1992, three priests and two deacons in Belarus were celebrating the Byzantine liturgy in Belarusian. The same year, a survey by Belarus State University found that 10,000 people in Minsk identified themselves as Greek Catholics. [6] By 1993, it was estimated that the number of Greek Catholics in Belarus had grown to 100,000. [7]

Extrapolated to the country as a whole, this was interpreted to mean that, especially among the intelligentsia and nationally conscious youth, some 120,000 Belarusians were in favour of a rebirth of the Greek-Catholic Church. Because of the lack of priests and churches this interest did not lead to membership. [5]

In 1994 Pope John Paul II appointed Sergiusz Gajek Apostolic Visitor for Greek Catholics in Belarus.

Present situation

At the beginning of 2015, the Belarusian Greek Catholic Church had 20 parishes, of which 18 had obtained state recognition. As of 2003, there have been two Belarusian Greek Catholic parishes in each of the following cities - Minsk, Polatsk and Vitsebsk; and only one in Brest, Hrodna, Mahiliou, Maladziechna and Lida. The faithful permanently attached to these came to about 3,000, while some 7,000 others lived outside the pastoral range of the parishes. Today there are 16 priests, and 9 seminarians. There was a small Studite monastery at Polatsk. The parishes are organized into two deaneries, each headed by a protopresbyter or archpriest. [8]

Two of the parishes had small churches. Some of the others had pastoral centres with an oratory.

Belarusian Greek Catholics abroad, numbering about 2,000, were under the care of Mitred Protopresbyter Alexander Nadson as Apostolic Visitator until his death in 2015. The chief centres are the Church of St Cyril of Turau and All the Patron Saints of the Belarusian People in London and parish in Antwerp (constituted in 2003).

A parish in Chicago, that of Christ the Redeemer, existed from 1955 to 2003. It was founded by John Chrysostom Tarasevich and was later the home parish of Uladzimir (Vladimir) Tarasevich until his death, after which it was administered by the local Latin Catholic ordinary, who appointed first Joseph Cirou and then John Mcdonnell as administrators. On 7 September 1996, the parish had seen the ordination of Prince Michael Huskey, EOHS as the first Belarusian deacon in the United States. Michael served in the parish until it was closed by Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago, on 20 July 2003.

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eastern Catholic Churches</span> 23 Eastern Christian churches in full communion with Rome

The Eastern Catholic Churches or Oriental Catholic Churches, also called the Eastern-rite Catholic Churches, Eastern Rite Catholicism, or simply the Eastern Churches, are 23 Eastern Christian autonomous particular churches of the Catholic Church, in full communion with the Pope in Rome. Although they are distinct theologically, liturgically, and historically from the Latin Church, they are all in full communion with it and with each other. Eastern Catholics are a distinct minority within the Catholic Church; of the 1.3 billion Catholics in communion with the Pope, approximately 18 million are members of the eastern churches.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Exarch</span> Former political and military office; now an ecclesiastical office

An exarch was the holder of any of various historical offices, some of them being political or military and others being ecclesiastical.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church</span> Eastern Catholic church of the Byzantine Rite

The Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church, also known in the United States simply as the Byzantine Catholic Church, is an Eastern Catholic church that uses the Byzantine Rite for its liturgies, laws, and cultural identity. It is one of the 23 Eastern Catholic churches that are in full communion with the Catholic Church and the Pope of Rome. There are significant, culturally distinct communities in the United States, Canada, and Europe. In the United States, the Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh is self-governing. In Europe, Ruthenian jurisdictions are exempt directly to the Holy See. The European branch has an eparchy in Ukraine and another in the Czech Republic.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Albanian Greek Catholic Church</span> Greek Catholic Church in Albania

The Albanian Greek Catholic Church, also known as the Albanian Byzantine Catholic Church, is an autonomous Byzantine Rite particular church in full communion with the Catholic Church and the Pope of Rome, whose members live in Albania and which comprises the Apostolic Administration of Southern Albania. The Albanian Greek Catholic Church, with its Byzantine Rite, is closely linked to the Italo-Albanian Catholic Church sharing a significant commonality of history, identity and traditions.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Russian Greek Catholic Church</span> Eastern Catholic Church in full communion with the Catholic Church

The Russian Greek Catholic Church, Russian Byzantine Catholic Church or simply Russian Catholic Church, is a sui iuris Byzantine Rite Eastern Catholic jurisdiction of the worldwide Catholic Church. Historically, it represents the first reunion of members of the Russian Orthodox Church with the Catholic Church. It is in full communion with and subject to the authority of the Pope of Rome as defined by Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Apostolic visitor</span>

In the Catholic Church, an apostolic visitor is a papal representative with a transient mission to perform a canonical visitation of relatively short duration. The visitor is deputed to investigate a special circumstance in a diocese or country, and to submit a report to the Holy See at the conclusion of the investigation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Greek Byzantine Catholic Church</span> Ecclesiastical Christian community for Greek Catholics

The Greek Byzantine Catholic Church or the Greek Catholic Church is a sui iuris Eastern Catholic particular church of the Catholic Church that uses the Byzantine liturgical rite in Koine Greek and Modern Greek. Its membership includes inhabitants of Greece, Turkey, Italy, and Corsica.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Catholic Church in Belarus</span> Overview of the Catholic Church in Belarus

The Catholic Church in Belarus is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope in Rome. The first Latin Rite diocese in Belarus was established in Turaŭ between 1008 and 1013. Catholicism was a traditionally dominant religion of Belarusian nobility and of a large part of the population of West Belarus.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Slovak Greek Catholic Church</span> Byzantine Rite Eastern Catholic Church

The Slovak Greek Catholic Church, or Slovak Byzantine Catholic Church, is a metropolitan sui iuris Eastern Catholic particular church in full communion with the Catholic Church and the Pope of Rome. Its liturgical rite is the Byzantine Rite. In 2008 in Slovakia alone, the Slovak Greek Catholic Church had some 350,000 faithful, 374 priests and 254 parishes. In 2017, the Catholic Church counted 207,320 Slovak Greek Catholics worldwide, representing roughly one percent of all Eastern Catholics.

Stephen Varzaly was a leading priest, journalist, and cultural activist for Rusyns in the United States.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Religion in Belarus</span> Overview of religion in Belarus

Christianity is the main religion in Belarus, with Eastern Orthodoxy being the largest denomination. The legacy of the state atheism of the Soviet era is evident in the fact that a part of the Belarusians are not religious. Moreover, other non-traditional and new religions have sprung up in the country after the end of the Soviet Union. According to the most recent estimations for 2011 by the Ministry of the Interior, 73.3% of the Belarusians are Orthodox Christians, 14.8% are irreligious, 9.7% are Catholic Christians, and 3.5% are members of other religions.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ceslaus Sipovich</span> Belarusian Greek Catholic bishop and émigré

Ceslaus Sipovich was a bishop of the Belarusian Greek Catholic Church and a notable Belarusian émigré social and religious leader.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alexander Nadson</span> Belarusian Greek Catholic priest, scholar, and émigré leader

Alexander Nadson was the Apostolic Visitor for Belarusian Greek-Catholic faithful abroad, scholar, translator and a notable Belarusian émigré social and religious leader.

Alexander Nikolaevich Evreinov was a Russian bishop, who converted to Russian Greek Catholic Church from Russian Orthodoxy. Being a citizen with a noble origin in Saint Petersburg, Evreinov was a member of the Foreign Affairs department of the Russian nation before his conversion to the Catholic faith and ordination to the priesthood. His consecration as a Catholic bishop of the Byzantine tradition was only formal, because Evreinov did not have any jurisdiction among Russian Catholics neither in the Soviet Union nor in the Russian diaspora. Evreinov was a member of the Russian Apostolate.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sergiusz Gajek</span> Belarusian Greek Catholic priest

Jan Sergiusz Gajek is the Apostolic Visitor for Greek-Catholic Christians on the territory of Belarus.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Haradzeya</span> Place in Minsk Region, Belarus

Haradzeya is an urban-type settlement in Belarus, located in the Nyasvizh District of Minsk Region.

Archimandrite Leo Haroshka, MIC was a Belarusian Catholic priest of the Byzantine rite, religious and social activist, researcher of the history of religion in Belarus and one of the founders of the Francis Skaryna Belarusian Library in London. His pseudonyms are LA Іskra, Anatoí Žmienia, Prakop Cavalieri and others.

ArchpriestAndrei Pavlovich Ablameyko is a Belarusian Greek Catholic priest.

The Ordinariate for Eastern Catholics in Argentina is a Catholic Ordinariate for Eastern Catholic faithful, jointly for all Eastern Catholics, regardless of rite, living in Argentina.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Andrei Tsikota</span> Belarusian Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic priest and politician

Archmandrite Andrei Tsikota MIC was a Belarusian Roman Catholic and Greek Catholic priest, Superior General of the Congregation of Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception, Ordinary of the Russian Catholic Apostolic Exarchate of Harbin, member of the Rada of the Belarusian Democratic Republic.

References

  1. "Каталіцтва, аб якім мы не ведаем". Archived from the original on 2013-07-30. Retrieved 2010-10-24.
  2. 1 2 "Воссоединение Униатов и Исторические Судьбы Белорусского Народа". Archived from the original on 2008-09-15. Retrieved 2006-01-22.
  3. 1 2 3 Siarhiej Hajek: The Belarusian Greek Catholic Church Yesterday and Today in Καθολική of 25 July 2006
  4. 1 2 Oriente Cattolico (1974), page 176
  5. 1 2 3 4 Siarhiej Hajek: The Belarusian Greek Catholic Church Yesterday and Today in Καθολική of 22 August 2006
  6. Servizio Informazioni Chiese Orientali (2005), page 165
  7. Stéphanie Mahieu and Vlad Naumescu (2008), Churches In-between: Greek Catholic Churches in Postsocialist Europe, Halle Studies in the Anthropology of Eurasia. Page 46.
  8. "Home". carkva-gazeta.org.

Sources