Friday, 31 March 2023 to Sunday, 2 April 2023

Failure of the "National Church": the Fate of Greek Catholics in independent Belarus

Fri31  Mar12:50pm(20 mins)
James Watt South Room 361


Aliaksei Lastouski1
1 Uppsala University, Sweden


Nation-building processes in Central-Eastern Europe are closely linked to the religious development. Belated nation building in Belarus is often attributed to the lack of a national church, as the believers are divided mainly between the Orthodox and Catholic confessions. In the late 1980s and early 1990s the idea of a "national church" was popular among the Belarusian national intelligentsia, and this mission was entrusted to the regenerated Greek-Catholic Church. Greek Catholics (or Uniates) was the mass confession in Belarus in the 18th and early 19th century, but it was forcibly attached to the Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate by Russian imperial authorities. It was assumed that as the Ukrainian Greek-Catholics in Galicia became the motor of the Ukrainian national movement, so revived Uniate Church will become the flagship of national revival in Belarus. Nevertheless, Greek-Catholics in Belarus have reached quite limited influence since 1991, this church has a small number of parishes and ecclesial communities of modest size. In my report I will try to analyze the trajectory of the reconstruction of the Greek Catholic Church in independent Belarus, and I will try to identify the main reasons for the failure of nation-building mission. The empirical basis of the interview will consist of the analysis of qualitative interviews with Uniate priests and activists, analysis of periodicals and statistical data.