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Biographical notes

[Updated: 22.07.2011]


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ŚWIĄTEK Card. Kazimierz

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Cardinal Kazimierz Świątek, Archbishop emeritus of Minsk-Mohilev and Apostolic Administrator ad nutum Sanctae Sedis of Pinsk, Belarus, was born at Walga in the Apostolic Administration of Estonia on 21 October 1914. After finishing secondary school he entered the Pinsk seminary on 8 September 1933. He was ordained a priest on 8 April 1939 by Bishop Kazimierz Bukraba. From 21 April 1939 to 21 April 1941 he was curate and later administrator of the parish in Pruzana, also in the Diocese of Pinsk.

On 21 April 1941 he was arrested by the KGB, the Soviet secret service, and imprisoned on death row in Brest, where he remained until 22 June. Taking advantage of the confusion caused by the German invasion of the Soviet Union, he escaped from prison and returned to his pastoral activities in the parish of Pruzana.

On 18 December 1944 he was again arrested by KGB agents and imprisoned in Minsk, where he remained until 21 July 1945. Sentenced to 10 years of hard labour in concentration camps, he spent two years in Mariinsk, Siberia, and seven years in Vorkuta and Inta in the north, working in the mines and the Siberian taiga.

He was released on 16 June 1954 and, after returning to Pinsk, he immediately returned to his pastoral work in the cathedral parish.

On 11 February 1988 he was named a chaplain of His Holiness. On 11 February 1989 he was appointed Vicar General of Pinsk and on 13 April 1991, Archbishop of Minsk-Mohilev and Apostolic Administrator ad nutum Sanctae Sedis of Pinsk. He received episcopal ordination on 21 May.

After the changes in the Soviet Union and the subsequent proclamation of sovereignty of Belarus, he reorganized and strengthened the ecclesiastical structures in the territory assigned to him, taking particular steps to reclaim and rebuild churches and to provide formation for the clergy.

President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Belarus (1999 - 2006).

On 27 September 2004, the Holy Father gave the Fidei testis Award to Cardinal Kazimierz Świątek, upon whom, serveral days earlier the Paul VI Institute in Brescia (Italy) had conferred the prize during a symposium held on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of its founding. The Pope said that this prize "is the most suitable for a Cristian; and even more so for a pastor who is a cardinal, and one who gave faithful and brave testimony to Christ and His Gospel during the difficult years of the persecution of the Catholic Church in Eastern Europe".

Archbishop emeritus of Minsk-Mohilev, 14 June 2006.

Created and proclaimed Cardinal by John Paul II in the Consistory of 26 November 1994, of the Title of San Gerardo Maiella (St. Gerald Majella). 

Cardinal Kazimierz Świątek died on 21 July 2011.

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