|Belarusian Greek Catholic Church|
|Leader||Archimandrit Sergiusz Gajek|
|Associations||Congregation for the Oriental Churches|
|Headquarters||Marian House, Finchley, England, UK|
|Origin||1596 (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)|
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| Particular churches sui iuris |
of the Catholic Church
|Particular churches are grouped by rite.|
|East Syriac Rite|
|Latin liturgical rites|
|West Syriac Rite|
The Belarusian Greek Catholic Church (Belarusian : Беларуская грэка-каталіцкая царква, Bielaruskaja hreka-katalickaja carkvaBHKC), sometimes called, in reference to its Byzantine Rite, the Belarusian Byzantine Catholic Church, is the heir within Belarus of the Union of Brest and Ruthenian Uniate Church. It is listed in the Annuario Pontificio as a sui iuris Church, an Eastern rite particular Church in full union with the Catholic Church.
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 (Litvin). 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.
The partition of Poland and the incorporation of the whole of Belarus into Russia led, according to the Russian Orthodox Church,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 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.
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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,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 or some 2,500 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.
When, in 1905, Tsar Nicholas II published a decree granting freedom of religion, as many as 230,000Belarusians wanted union with Rome. However, since the government refused to allow them to form a Byzantine-Rite community, they adopted the Latin Rite, 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, a mere two years later, he was arrested and taken to a Soviet concentration camp, where he died.
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, Father 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, Father 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.
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, Father Uladzimir Tarasevich, was appointed in 1983. After his death in 1986, Father Alexander Nadson was appointed Apostolic Visitator, but not, at his own request, raised to episcopal rank.
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.
In early 1990, Father 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.
September 1990 saw the registration of the first Greek-Catholic parish since the Second World War, and in early 1991 Father 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.
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.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.
At the beginning of 2005, the Belarusian Greek Catholic Church had 20 parishes, of which 13 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 4,000 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.
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 parishes in Antwerp (constituted in 2003) and Kostomloty, Poland.
A parish in Chicago, that of Christ the Redeemer, existed from 1955 to 2003. It was founded by Father John Chrysostom Tarasevich and was later the home parish of Bishop Uladzimir (Vladimir) Tarasevich until his death, after which it was administered by the local Latin Catholic ordinary, who appointed first Father Joseph Cirou and then Father 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. Father Deacon Michael served in the parish until it was closed by Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago, on 20 July 2003.
Divine Liturgy or Holy Liturgy is the Eucharistic service of the Byzantine Rite, developed from the Antiochene Rite of Christian liturgy which is that of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. As such, it is used in the Eastern Orthodox, the Byzantine Catholic Churches, and the Ukrainian Lutheran Church. Although the same term is sometimes applied in English to the Eucharistic service of Armenian Christians, both of the Armenian Apostolic Church and of the Armenian Catholic Church, they use in their own language a term meaning "holy offering" or "holy sacrifice". Other churches also treat "Divine Liturgy" simply as one of many names that can be used, but it is not their normal term.
The Eastern Catholic Churches or Oriental Catholic Churches, also called the Eastern-rite Catholic Churches, or simply the Eastern Churches and in some historical cases referred to pejoratively as Uniates, are twenty-three Eastern Christian sui iuris (autonomous) particular churches of the Catholic Church, in full communion with the pope in Rome. They are united with one another and with the Latin or Roman Church. In particular, they recognize the central role of the Bishop of Rome within the College of Bishops and his infallibility when speaking ex cathedra. The majority of the Eastern Catholic Churches are groups from the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox churches, and the historic Church of the East that have returned to communion with the Bishop of Rome, either due to theological concerns or due to understanding the role of the Bishop of Rome as head of church, and sometimes also in part due to extenuating political and cultural circumstances influencing the churches' relations. As such the five liturgical traditions of the twenty-three Eastern Catholic Churches, including the Alexandrian Rite, the Armenian Rite, the Byzantine Rite, the East Syriac Rite, and the West Syriac Rite, are shared with other Eastern Christian churches. Consequently, the Catholic Church consists of six liturgical rites; including the aforementioned five liturgical traditions of the Eastern Catholic Churches along with the Latin liturgical rites of the Latin Church.
The term exarch comes from the Ancient Greek ἔξαρχος, exarchos, and designates holders of various historical offices, some of them being political or military and others being ecclesiastical.
The Byzantine Rite, also known as the Greek Rite or Constantinopolitan Rite, is the liturgical rite used by the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Greek Catholic Churches, and in a modified form, Byzantine Rite Lutheranism. Its development began during the fourth century in Constantinople and it is now the second most-used ecclesiastical rite in Christendom after the Roman Rite.
The Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church, also known in the United States 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 Holy See. There are two main communities within the church: American and European. In the United States, the Byzantine Catholic Metropolitan Church of Pittsburgh is self-governing. In Europe, Ruthenian Catholics are immediately subject to the Holy See. The European branch has an eparchy in Ukraine and another in the Czech Republic.
The Albanian Greek Catholic Church, also known as the Albanian Byzantine Catholic Church, is an autonomous Byzantine Rite particular church in communion with Rome, whose members live in Albania and which comprises the Apostolic Administration of Southern Albania. It is not to be confused with the Italo-Albanian Catholic Church.
The Russian Greek Catholic Church, or Russian Catholic Church, is a sui iuris Byzantine Rite Eastern Catholic Church. Historically, it represents the first reunion of members of the Russian Orthodox Church with the Roman Catholic Church. It is now in full communion with and subject to the authority of the Pope as defined by Eastern canon law.
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.
The Byzantine Catholic Metropolia of Pittsburgh is part of the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church in the United States.
The Catholic Church in Georgia, since the 11th-century East–West Schism, has been composed mainly of Latin-Rite Catholics; Catholic communities of the Armenian Rite have existed in the country since the 18th century.
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.
Antiochene Rite or Antiochian Rite designates the family of liturgies originally used in the Patriarchate of Antioch.
The Slovak Greek Catholic Church, or Slovak Byzantine Catholic Church, is a Metropolitan sui iuris Eastern particular Church in full union with the Catholic Church. Its liturgical rite is the Byzantine Rite. L'Osservatore Romano of January 31, 2008 reported that, in Slovakia alone, it had some 350,000 faithful, 374 priests and 254 parishes. In addition, the 2012 Annuario Pontificio gave its Canadian Eparchy of Saints Cyril and Methodius of Toronto as having 2,000 faithful, 4 priests and 5 parishes. The Slovak Greek Catholic Church is in full communion with the Holy See.
Georgian Byzantine Rite Catholics are not now reported in published sources as existing.
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 large 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, 48.3% of the Belarusians are Orthodox Christians, 41.1% are irreligious, 7.1% are Catholics, and 3.5% are members of other religions.
Alexander Nadson was the Apostolic Visitor for Belarusian Greek-Catholic faithful abroad and a notable Belarusian émigré social and religious leader.
Father Jan Sergiusz Gajek is the Apostolic Visitor for Greek-Catholic Christians on the territory of Belarus.
A particular church is an ecclesiastical community of faithful headed by a bishop, as defined by Catholic canon law and ecclesiology. A liturgical rite depends on the particular church the bishop belongs to. Thus "particular church" refers to an institution, and "liturgical rite" to its practices.
ArchpriestAndrei Pavlovich Ablameyko is a Belarusian Greek Catholic priest.
The Ordinariate for Eastern (Rites) Catholics in Argentina or Argentina of the Eastern Rite is a Catholic Ordinariate for Eastern Catholic faithful, jointly for all Eastern Catholics, regardless of rite, living in Argentina.