Vilnius, Lithuania, July 28, 2022
Lithuania is the third country to impose personal sanctions upon His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, after England and Canada.
In particular, the Patriarch is classified as an unwanted person and banned from entering the country until June 23, 2027, for “his support for Russia, which continues its invasion of Ukraine,” the Lithuanian Ministry of Internal Affairs confirmed to the BNS outlet yesterday.
“Patriarch Kirill, a close associate of Vladimir Putin, is one of the most active supporters of the war against Ukraine, who has repeatedly publicly spoken positively about ongoing Russian aggression,” the Ministry said in a statement.
According to the Ministry, “In the Russian propaganda media, Patriarch Kirill openly calls the people of Ukraine ‘participants of the Nazi regime’ who should be deported or destroyed. On February 27, 2022, Patriarch Kirill blessed Russian soldiers participating in the war against Ukraine and provided a canonical justification for the war waged by Russia.”
Lithuania earlier proposed sanctions against the Patriarch for the whole of the EU, though the move was blocked by Hungary.
Russian Church representative Vakhtang Kipshidze, the Deputy Head of the Synodal Department for Church Relations with Society and the Mass Media, commented that by refusing entry to the Patriarch, the Lithuanian authorities are violating the rights of Lithuanian believers “in a completely undemocratic and politicized way, and that’s the point—rejecting ideas about religious freedom and the European legal tradition.”
Lithuanian authorities aren’t realizing the national interests of their state, but “some small political obligations of their own to senior partners, and therefore all this looks helpless, unconvincing and, most importantly, useless for the purposes that are allegedly declared,” the Church rep added.
Meanwhile, the Diocese of Vilnius and Lithuania issued its own statement on the matter yesterday, reiterating that His Eminence Metropolitan Innokenty and the Church there have their own views:
From the very beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Diocese of Vilnius and Lithuania has strongly condemned this war and aggression. This position was consistently confirmed in the statements of Metropolitan Innokenty of Vilnius and Lithuania, as well as in the appeals of the laity and clergy of the Orthodox Church of Lithuania.
In the statement of Metropolitan Innokenty of March 17, it was especially emphasized that the Orthodox Church in Lithuania doesn’t agree with the views and political statements of Patriarch Kirill.
Thus, the Orthodox of Lithuania can’t be held responsible for the statements of Patriarch Kirill, since this is his personal opinion, which has no influence on the position of the Vilnius-Lithuanian Diocese.
In the current situation, even the thought of the possibility of Patriarch Kirill’s visit to Lithuania is absurd.