Moscow, May 30, 2022
A commission of the Russian Orthodox Church will examine the Lithuanian Diocese’s request for greater autonomy in its self-governance.
During the session of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church on Friday, the hierarchs heard a report from His Eminence Metropolitan Innokenty of Vilnius and Lithuania with a request to change the status of the diocese, reports Patriarchia.ru.
“We should think about the situation developing in the Diocese of Vilnius, and how we can help the Orthodox Church in Lithuania to be able to respond to modern challenges and at the same time serve the high pastoral tasks it faces,” commented His Holiness Patriarch Kirill.
The Lithuanian Diocese is facing the threat of schism from clerics who want to join the Patriarchate of Constantinople and from the state, which has expressed its willingness to help bring Constantinople into Lithuania.
In response to the request, the Synod decided to establish a commission to consider the issue, consisting of:
His Holiness Patriarch Kirill
Metropolitan Pavel of Krutitsa and Kolomna, head of the recently-created Department for Dioceses in Neighboring Countries
Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Department for External Church Relations
Metropolitan Dionysius of Voskresensk, Chancellor of the ROC
Archpriest Nikolai Balashov, Deputy Chairman of the DECR
Archpriest Vladislav Tsypin, professor of the Moscow Theological Academy
The results of the commission’s work will be submitted to the Holy Synod for consideration.
While the Patriarchia.ru report doesn’t specify what kind of change was requested, the Lithuanian Diocese clarifies that Met. Innokenty requested that the Church in Lithuania be granted the status of a self-governing, nearly autonomous Church. It currently has simple diocesan status.
Already in March, together with his condemnation of the fratricidal war in Ukraine, Met. Innokenty stated that the Church in Lithuania, “will continue to strive for even greater Church independence, believing that the Lord will grant such independence in due time.”
The diocesan report notes that the Latvian, Estonian, and Moldovan Churches, and ROCOR are all self-governing, while maintaining a canonical connection with the Moscow Patriarchate. And in fact, the hierarchs in Lithuania already make all decisions independently. Thus, what’s being requested is to officially amend the Lithuanian Diocese’s status to correspond to reality, emphasizes Met. Innokenty.
“Our Church is neither Muscovite nor Russian, but Lithuanian, and all decisions on its management are made in Lithuania. In the complete absence of any financial ties with the Moscow Patriarchate, we maintain a canonical and prayerful connection with the Mother Church and are faithful to the traditions of Russian Orthodox piety,” His Eminence explained.