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Metropolitan Pavel: Autocephaly means death for Belarusian Orthodox Church

Metropolitan Pavel/STV 

"Thank God there is no desire for autocephaly in Belarus today," Metropolitan Pavel, the Russian Orthodox Church’s patriarchal exarch to all Belarus said on Saturday when commenting on Ukrainian Orthodox Church's split from Moscow in an interview with the television channel STV

The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople has recognized Ukraine’s Orthodox Church’s independence from the Moscow Patriarchate, prompting a furious reaction from the Russian Orthodox Church. The latter severed all the ties with Constantinople. The Belarusian Orhtodox Church [of the Moscow Patriarchate] supported Moscow's move.

Metropolitan Pavel sharply criticized the voices in support of a Belarusian Orthodox Church that would be independent of the Moscow Patriarchate. 

"One can hear voices sometimes saying: "Should we ask for autocephaly in Belarus too?" But I say sincerely and openly: it is a horrible tragedy for Ukraine. But if the same happens in Belarus, that would mean death for the Belarusian Orthodox Church. That's all. That will doom the Belarusian Orthodox Church to ruin. Thank God all the clergy and virtually all believers do not think in this direction," the head of Belarusian Orthodox Church said.

Born Georgy Ponomaryov in Karaganda, Kazakhstan (Soviet Union), on February 19, 1952 into a Russian working-class family, Metropolitan Pavel worked as a driver and locksmith before graduating from Moscow Theological Seminary in 1976. He graduated from the Moscow Theological Academy four years later.

Metropolitan Pavel served as the Russian Orthodox Church’s bishop in North America and Western Europe in the 1990s and the early 2000s.

He was appointed patriarchal exarch to all Belarus on December 25, 2013 and arrived in Belarus in early 2014. He was granted a Belarusian residence permit but remains a citizen of Russia.