BELARUS (ACN News): Communicating the faith to a post-communist generation is the top mission priority for a bishop from north-east Belarus.
Speaking to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, Bishop Wladyslaw Blin of Vitebsk stressed the importance of the new evangelisation in a country which had been oppressed for more than 70 years under communism.
“Today we must seek new ways to reach people so that they may stay true to their faith,” Bishop Blin said.
“The new evangelisation must express the power of the faith and the Gospel, as people are losing sight of the power of the Holy Spirit.”
The diocese is engaged in a number of projects to communicate the Good News, including the Festival of Spiritual Music for young people, and Christian Culture days which encourage interest in traditional Belarusan Christian practices.
There is also “Magnificat”, the festival of Christian films, which is under the patronage of Bishop Blin.
The bishop is embracing the media and, in addition to a website, he makes regular radio broadcasts on topics such as the family.
“Preaching the Gospel is a big challenge to the Catholic Church. Earlier the faith was part of a tradition, from which one is slowly moving away in our times,” Bishop Blin said.
The Church has not shied away from addressing ethical and moral questions and Bishop Blin organises international medical conferences in Belarus.
Professionals and experts from Rome have been invited to speak on Christian ethics within the medical profession, including the dignity of life.
Traditional pilgrimages to places such as Braclav or Buclav have also proved popular.
On July 1, up to 2500 pilgrims arrived at the national sanctuary in Budslau on the eve of the feast of Our Lady of Budslau for the celebrations.
Despite challenges the faith is still deeply rooted in many people – partly because of the persecution under communism.
“Many have died for their faith. Almost every single family has a victim who gave their life because of their faith in God,” Bishop Blin, who was in exile in Poland during the communist period, said.
“The country, in particular the eastern parts, survived 70 long years without God. Now, one must give witness to the next generation.
“Earlier the grandmothers would bring the children to church – today the children bring their parents along to church.
“We are obliged to teach them anew how to pray and to read the Holy Bible.
“Today the role of the Catholic Church is to strengthen people’s awareness of the fact that each and every person has a right to practise the religion which he carries in his heart; the faith of his great-grandfathers.
“We must be there for the faithful. We want to show them that, with God everyone can be happy, since God is love. “Every unhappy person has lost God in his life. Do you need love? God is love.”
Out of a population of about 10 million in Belarus, about two million are Catholic, the majority of the others are Russian Orthodox.
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