Lukashenko’s invitation to the Pope to visit Belarus, was not preliminary coordinated with the Russian Orthodox Church, and can provoke a negative reaction in Moscow.
Minsk’s political readiness for the visit can be justified by the country’s confessional structure.
The sociological monitoring carried out by the Commissioner for Religions and Nationalities of Belarus says, there are about 50-60% believers in the country. Depending on the region, the share of the Orthodox is 50 to 80%, and Roman Catholic 15 to 50%.
The majority of the Catholics live in the Grodno region - about 400 thousand belong to 191 parishes. The smallest number of the Catholics is in the East - Mogilev and Gomel regions. The overall number of the Roman Catholics is about 750 thousand people.
The growth in the religious organizations occurs mainly in the eastern and central regions, and along the Trans-European Corridor (Brest - Minsk - Orsha) in large urban centers. Traditionally, these regions are characterized by a low religiosity level, and have the capacity for growth of religious communities.
In general, the Russian Orthodox Church enjoys the privileged status. ROC parishes make up the majority of religious organizations in the country. Currently, the influence of the Russian Orthodox Church in culture, which was previously considered to be purely secular, is growing. Sometimes ROC interventions are scandalous. In 2012, local Orthodox clergy in Gomel has urged the local authorities to ban the world-famous rock-opera Jesus Christ Superstar. Also ROC shows full loyalty to the public authorities.