Of the 9.4 million inhabitants of Belarus, nearly 80% are Christians, most of them of the Orthodox faith. Catholics form a minority of around 10%. A severe political and economic crisis continued to mark life in Belarus in 2021. Its effects were exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition to their pastoral mission, Christian churches are also committed to social peace in the country. ACN predominantly supports the Catholic Church in Belarus in training the next generation of priests.
Ever since the disputed presidential election of 2020, a climate of fear and resignation has overtaken the country. The economic crisis is advancing and authoritarian regime of President Lukashenko is severely restricting liberal democratic rights in what was once known as “White Russia”. Both Christian Churches have repeatedly called for dialogue to solve the social problems.
The Catholic Church offers spiritual, psychological and material support to believers who are suffering particularly great hardships during this difficult time. To ensure that it can continue to fulfil this mission, ACN supports the Church in Belarus in the training of future priests. Though most priests at work here come from Belarus, the local Church cannot function without the help of priests from abroad – especially from Poland.
Pope Francis is concerned about the situation in the country.Bishop Aleh Butkevich of Vitebsk, President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Belarus
In the year under review, we were also able to provide the Belarusian Church with emergency aid and Mass stipends for priests. We also provided subsistence aid for religious sisters. And in those places where parishes extend over several villages, we once again helped purchase vehicles in 2021.
St Anthony’s parish relies on ACN’s aid
In the Catholic Parish of St Anthony in Mogilev, eastern Belarus, more and more people are attending Holy Mass. Many of the faithful are actively involved in the life of the parish. There are various prayer groups and other activities. With the support of ACN, a church with a parish centre is now under construction. This will allow enough space for church services, group meetings and other events.