Riga, November 7, 2019
Following the legal registration of the “Latvian Orthodox Autonomous Church in the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople” by the Ministry of Justice on October 24, a number of distortions and fabrications appeared in the media, prompting the Holy Synod of the canonical Latvian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate to issue a clarification-response.
“The false information contained in these [media] materials confuses the parishioners of the Latvian Orthodox Church. For the sake of maintaining peace and calm, the Synod of the LOC gives the following explanation,” the Synodal statement reads.
“The head of the newly registered religious organization is Viktor Kontuzorov, who was excommunicated from the Orthodox Church by the Council of the Latvian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate in 1997. This excommunication is recognized throughout the Orthodox world. Since then and to the present day Victor Kontuzorov is not Orthodox and has no relation to holy Orthodoxy,” the bishops state.
Through a series of court maneuvers, the schismatic “Autonomous Church” was able to register, despite the long-standing Latvian law that stipulates that only one organization from each religious confession can be registered. The canonical Latvian Church has been registered since 1992. Despite that both churches are now registered they “have nothing in common,” the canonical hierarchs assure their faithful.
“The new registration has NOTHING to do with the Latvian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate and does not affect the position of our Church and its name,” the statement continues.
“All information about the alleged transition or transfer of our Church to Constantinople is an outright, blatant lie, invented by enemies of Orthodoxy and disseminated by the media. We urge all faithful children of the Latvian Orthodox Church not to believe these provocative fabrications. All this fiction is directed not only against the Latvian Orthodox Church, but also against every Orthodox person in Latvia,” the statement concludes.
Viktor Konturozov, the head of the schismatic LOAC was born in 1944. In 1988, he took monastic vows and was soon ordained a hieromonk within the canonical Russian Orthodox Church. However, in the early 1990s, he announced his resignation from the Moscow Patriarchate and joined ROCOR. He later left ROCOR and in October 1994 was received into the “Russian Orthodox Free Church,” which later became the “Russian Orthodox Autonomous Church” under “Metropolitan” Valentine of Suzdal and Vladimir.
In 1995, he became the “bishop” of Daugavpils and Latvia for the LOAC/ROAC, and in 2000 was raised to the dignity of “archbishop.” He was later released from the ROAC and is now the head of the independent LOAC, which has declared itself to be part of the Patriarchate of Constantinople and has commemorated Patriarch Bartholomew at Divine services since 2011.
He was defrocked by the canonical Latvian Church in 1996 and excommunicated in 1997. The act of his excommunication reads:
Act of excommunication of Viktor Konturozov from the Orthodox Church
1. The Council of clergy and laity of the Latvian Orthodox Church bore judgment on the anti-Church and God-fighting activities of Monk Viktor (Kontuzorov), deprived of the priesthood by the Council of the LOC in June 1996.
2. Called to repentance for his blasphemy and anti-Orthodox activities, he did not heed the voice of the Mother Church and did not appear at the Council.
3. Having investigated the anti-Church activities and atrocities of Viktor (Kontuzorov), on the basis of the 28th Canon of the Holy Apostles, which reads: “If any bishop, or presbyter, or deacon, who has been justly deposed from office for proven crimes, should dare to touch the Liturgy which had once been put in his hands, let him be cut off from the Church altogether,” and the 10th Canon of the Council of Carthage, the 14th Canon of the Council of Sardica, the 4th Canon of the Council of Antioch, the 13th Canon of the First-Second Council, and the 88th Canon of St. Basil, the Council of the Latvian Orthodox Church unanimously determines:
To excommunicate Monk Viktor Kontuzorov
from the holy Orthodox Church of Christ.
Let him be excommunicated before all the people (Mt. 18:15-17).
Concerning those tempted by the former cleric of the Orthodox Church, the Council of the Latvian Orthodox Church reminds all who dare to have communion with him of the words of St. Basil the Great: “If … you should dare, instead of correcting yourself, to celebrate the services, you will be anathema to all the people, and any persons accepting you will be excommunicated from every Church.”
The Council of the Latvian Orthodox Church informs all Local Orthodox Churches about the excommunication of former monk Viktor Kontuzorov from the holy Orthodox Church.