Photo from UNIAN

The Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church supports the provision of autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UOC) and aims to officially obtain the status of autocephaly.

"Of course, we support this decision. Our goal is also to legalize in Belarus and officially get the status of autocephaly," First Hierarch of the Belarusian Autocephalous Orthodox Church (BAOC), Archbishop Sviatoslav Lohin told RFE/RL's Ukrainian service on September 16.

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"Historically, we have a centuries-old Orthodox tradition. In the last century, our church took real steps to get autocephaly and to be recognized," he added.

Lohin explained the Ukrainian and Belarusian churches had a single metropolitan church in the past, i.e. the church in Belarus originated from the Kyiv Metropolis. "Later, it was a Kyiv-Lithuanian metropolis, with a center in [the city] of Navahrudak, which was destroyed by the Moscow church. And to this day Moscow has been doing everything to prevent the Ukrainian and Belarusian churches from receiving autocephaly," the archbishop said.

According to him, there must be a desire of believers and authorities so that the Belarusian Orthodoxy could get an autocephalous status. Lohin is convinced in order for the state to be spiritually independent, its church should be independent as well. Therefore, the state should be interested in this independence.

"Under the current authorities, the legalization of the Belarusian church, its further development and the obtaining of autocephaly are hardly possible. The current authorities are economically, politically and spiritually subordinated to Moscow," he added.

At the same time, the archbishop expressed the hope that granting autocephaly to the UOC would also effect the BAOC since the Belarusian church should be the next after the recognition of the Ukrainian one.