|His Eminence Cardinal Kazimierz Świątek|
Archbishop Metropolitan emeritus of Minsk-Mohilev
Cardinal Kazimierz Świątek was born in 1914 in Estonia in Valga, baptized in Riga. When he was three years old his family was deported in Siberia. After graduation from the Major Seminary in Pinsk he was ordained priest on April 8, 1939 and was directed to Pruzhany for work. In consequence of persecution of religion he was arrested and condemned to death. He had been at condemned cell for two months. The war that began in 1941 interfered with the realization of the sentence. But in 1944 the young priest was arrested again and condemned to ten years of concentration camp where he laboured hard first in Siberia, then beyond the polar circle in Inta near Varkuta.
Being emancipated in 1954 he went to Pinsk. For the first time it became possible to celebrate the Holy Mass in the church.
Thanks to Kazimierz Świątek's self-giving work the cathedral of Pinsk was rebuilt. It was no doubt one of the first rebuilt churches in Belarus. Restoring the cathedral Father Kazimierz thought and did his best first of all to build the living church - God's people, living stones of which are believers.
The end of the 80th and the beginning of the 90th brought the long-awaited freedom of worship.
Świątek's pastoral activity, his devotion to the Church, his unusual managerial qualities, authority and deference among priests had been noticed by the Holy See. In 1991 the Holy Father John Paul II appointed him the first archbishop of the newly created archdiocese of Minsk-Mohilev and Apostolic Administrator of the diocese of Pinsk.
At the age of 77 Świątek began his work as bishop. He visits parishes, establishes deaneries, creates the structures necessary for the Church, defends the rights of the believers, participates in the Synod of Bishops in 1991, in meetings of the Bishop Conference Council of Europe and other Church organizations, world forums, conferences etc. He is the witness of the persecution of the Catholic faith and its renaissance in Belarus.
In 1994 the Holy Father John Paul II creates him Cardinal - the highest title of the Church. This is the acknowledgment of merits not only of the talented priest and bishop, but also of the courage witness of faith. This is the acknowledgement of the position of the Church in Belarus and its role in the world Church as well.
Cardinal Świątek even with more energy and courage makes the program of revival of spirituality and preparation of the Church in Belarus to the Great Jubilee 2000. Special attention is paid to various pastoral programs, restoration of churches and first of all of the Minsk Cathedral, to the work of the Synod of the archdiocese of Minsk-Mohilev, the diocese of Pinsk and that of Vitebsk, which joined the Synod directly after its creation. The Cardinal opened the Synod in 1996, the slogan of which is "to renew everything in Christ".
Cardinal Świątek was elected the first president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops in Belarus, which underlines his leading role in the Church in Belarus.
On the 14th of June 2006 the Holy Father Benedict XVI accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the Archdiocese of Minsk – Mohilev presented by His Eminence Cardinal Kazimierz Świątek, in compliance with can. 401 § 1 of the Code of Canon Law.