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MINSK: February 6, 2009
The First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad Makes a First Unofficial Visit to Belarus

His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion venerated the holy relics of Holy Spirit Cathedral, and visited Vsekhsvyatsky Church in Minsk, Belarus. The First Hierarch of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia also visited Minsk Diocesan headquarters, where he met with His Eminence Metropolitan Philaret of Minsk and Slutsk, Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus.

During his visit to Sviato-Dukhova Cathedral, Metropolitan Hilarion addressed the Belarussian flock, during which he congratulated the believers of Belarus on the election of a new Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia. Vladyka Hilarion shared his joy in visiting the Slavic lands:

"For me this it a great joy that I can be with you today after so many decades, when Russians in the Homeland and abroad had no visible unity. Of course, we were always united in faith, we were part of the Holy Orthodox Church. Still, the enemy of mankind has tried to divide Orthodox Christians. But by the great mercy of God, a great event occurred in May, 2007, the reunification of the two parts of the Russian Orthodox Church. We gratefully remember His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of blessed memory, and Metropolitan Laurus, the Primate of the Russian Church Abroad, for laboring towards this great deed, signing the Act of Canonical Communion. And now, as First Hierarch of the Russian Church Abroad myself, together with our archpastors, delegate clergymen and laymen, and together with you, participated for the first time in a Pomestny Sobor, in the election of the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia."

His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion expressed thanks for the hospitality shown him in Belarus. He noted that, visiting the country, he remembers the podvigi "of the holy righteous saints of God, who labored here, all those who suffered for the faith on this land during the period of strife. Eternal memory to them! By the prayers of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors, the Lord has granted renascence to our Holy Orthodox Church after such a long period of suffering and persecutions. The Lord has sent us the most suitable opportunity to gather stones, for building new holy churches."

His Eminence Metropolitan Hilarion wished the pastors and flock of the Belarussian Orthodox Church "great and bountiful mercies of God, health, strength and salvation," and asked "their holy prayers for the Orthodox Christians living in the Russian diaspora."