30 January 2023, Monday, 21:12
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Patriarch’s visit to Belarus criticized – friendship with dictators is risky

Patriarch’s visit to Belarus criticized – friendship with dictators is risky

The mass media warn: when Lukashenka’s power staggers, attitude to his orthodox friends will change.

As Gazeta.ru runs, the close church-state union can lead to dangerous consequences for both. Ardent friendship with authoritarian regimes is a risky dangerous thing. Patriarch Kirill was accepted in Belarus as a welcome guest. Other attitude could hardly be expected.

The patriarch established excellent relation with Lukashenka. The whole model of state-church relations in Belarus impressed by its completeness. The Belarusian ruler was sincere, as always: “We don’t divide anything here. I don’t understand how such a huge institution as the church can be divided from the state.” His next words were honey for the patriarch – he said the state ideology was based on Christian values. Patriarch, in turn, promised the church’s support in a dialogue between Minsk and Moscow.

The whole visit was held in this manner. The Russian Orthodox Church head meet with secular and religious officials, accepted honourable titles and congratulations, made speeches and conducted services in churches.

Kirill was welcomed; no signs of discontent were noticed. Believers in Vitebsk even kissed the footsteps of the patriarch on the carpet. Compared with a stormy visit to Ukraine, this trip was idyllic.

So, was authoritarian policy of Lukashenka on establishing state-church relations fruitful?

It was, at first sight, but it’s not so easy.

The fervent embrace of Lukashenka doesn’t make the image of the church negative among population so far. On the contrary, this promotes the church. This is the benefit for Lukashenka as well (in any case, he hopes so).

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church promised to contribute to establishing closer ties with Moscow. But history shows that ardent friendship with an authoritarian regime is very risky. When Lukashenka’s power staggers, attitude to his reliable orthodox friends will change. So, no one should be surprised to see next visits of the patriarch to Belarus to be not so smooth as this one.