The new patriarchal exarch for Belarus, Metropolitan Pavel of Minsk and Slutsk, intends to arrival in Minsk at the beginning of January.
"Metropolitan Pavel plans to leave the Ryazan region at the end of next week, ahead of the [Orthodox] Christmas holidays. Metropolitan Veniamin of Ryazan and Mikhailovo and Metropolitan Pavel of Minsk and Slutsk will conduct a religious service at the Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ in the Ryazan Kremlin," a Ryazan archdiocese spokesman told Interfax on Thursday.
Metropolitan Pavel, for his part, has said it is a pity that he will have to leave Ryazan.
"From the point of view of the church hierarchy, it is definitely a promotion because the metropolitan of Minsk is the head of the Belarusian Orthodox Church and is a permanent member of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church. But as for my relations with Ryazan, it is certainly sad because I have a strong love for the Ryazan region and the people," the metropolitan was quoted as saying.
"Ryazan has become my home. I am sad to leave it. But we do not discuss the decisions of the Holy Synod, but accept them as a blessing," he said.
On December 25, the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church allowed Metropolitan Filaret to retire and appointed Metropolitan Pavel as head of the Belarusian Orthodox Church.