By Dan Wooding, Founder of the ASSIST News Service
MINSK, BELARUS (ANS – September 26, 2015) — The Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church’s parish in the capital Minsk has abandoned attempts to gain state registration after US-based Archbishop Sviatoslav (Lohin) was denied entry to Belarus in late July, Fr. Leonid Akalovich has told Forum 18 News Service (www.forum18.org).
This is the first ban on a pastoral visit by the Archbishop.
Fr. Akalovich stressed that the Church would like to have legal status. Without registration it has to keep a low profile, as under the Religion Law, any exercise of the right to freedom of religion or belief without state approval is illegal. Officials have refused to explain to Forum 18 why they denied the Church registration and gave spurious reasons for this – including that the Church is allegedly new although its current statute was drafted in 1927.
According to a story by Olga Glace of the Forum 18 News Service, Archpriest Leonid Akalovich stressed that his Church would like to have legal status and was planning to apply again for state registration this year. But, he added, due to the incident with Archbishop Sviatoslav “it makes no sense.”
The Minsk parish of the Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church – which is independent of the Russian Orthodox Church – was most recently denied state registration in 2011. It thinks it would stand little chance of success in any future attempt. Without registration it has to keep a low profile.
“Under the Religion Law, any exercise of the right to freedom of religion or belief without state approval is illegal and subject to punishment,” she added.
Photo captions: 1) Leaders of the Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church. 2) Dan Wooding.
About the writer: Dan Wooding, 74, is an award-winning author, broadcaster and journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for more than 52 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. Dan is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS). He is also the author of some 45 books.
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