Latvian Church accepts its “autocephalous” status from gov’t

Riga, September 10, 2022

Nativity of Christ Cathedral in Riga. Photo: Nativity of Christ Cathedral in Riga. Photo:     

The Latvian Orthodox Church issued a statement yesterday in response to its legal change in status by the Latvian Parliament.

On Thursday, the Saeima adopted the bill submitted earlier this week by the Latvian President, declaring the Latvian Church completely independent of the Moscow Patriarchate.

The statement from the press service of the Latvian Orthodox Church reads in full:

On September 8, at the initiative of the President of Latvia Mr. Egil Levits, the Saeima of the Republic of Latvia amended the Law on the Latvian Orthodox Church. This decision is of a legal nature and the adopted amendments relate to the legal status of the Church. The state has established the status of our Church as autocephalous. The state has determined that the Latvian Orthodox Church is legally independent from any Church center located outside Latvia, maintaining spiritual, prayerful and liturgical communion with all canonical Orthodox Churches of the world. Changing the status does not change the Orthodox faith, dogmas, liturgical life of the Church, calendar style, sacred liturgical language, rituals, traditions, or internal Church life.

The Synod of the Latvian Orthodox Church lovingly calls on the clergy and laity to preserve the peaceful order of the spirit, to maintain the unity of our Church, strictly observing the laws of our Latvian state. By sharing spiritually and prayerfully in unbreakable unity with the entire Orthodox world, we will preserve the purity of our faith and strengthen holy Orthodoxy in the Latvian land. We ask all believers to pray fervently and fervently for our holy Church, and may the merciful Lord preserve it in peace and prosperity.

According to the statutes of the Russian Orthodox Church, autocephaly can only be granted by a Local Council of the Church, which consists of bishops and clerical, monastic, and lay representatives.

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Paul9/21/2022 3:16 pm
This does not change the faith, perhaps it is to preserve loyalty to the state as it is rather absurd for Latvians to have to pray for the Russian armed forces at the end of the Saturday Vigil, just as it would be absurd for Russians to have to pray for the Latvian armed forces.
Zenos9/21/2022 12:48 am
More NATO soft power tactics.
Antiochene Son9/13/2022 3:31 pm
Good perspective, David.
David9/13/2022 7:44 am
One of the ugly realities of autocephaly is that every autocephalous Church that came into being in the modern era had the involvement of the secular authorities, and was intertwined with the politics of that time, in particular the nationalist movements of the 19th-early 20th century. The Moscow Patriarchate is in the same position now that the Ecumenical Patriarchate was in the 19th century. The pattern is the same. Nationalists (or whatever ideology) declare their nation's Church autocephalous (in alliance with the Bishops of that Church)---the Mother Church gets angry, with anathemas, excommunications, et al; Communion is broken between them, with other Churches "taking sides" either openly or covertly (hushed intercommunion, providing material support, be it Chrism, vessels, relics, etc), an uproar ensues for a few years (or decades), and then Communion is restored, when the Bishops who were involved are dead. Rinse and Repeat. This time is no different. Moscow wants to have everyone believe it is different because it is happening to them this time.
Panagiotis9/13/2022 1:13 am
Orthodox Brother Alexander is correct. This government action is no good for all the Orthodox. It sets a bad precedent. He is also correct that we do not want to be like the anglicans. Correct me if I am wrong, but wasn't the Anglican Church started by a dirty Anglo King who kept wanting to marry new wives? What a clown he was. He definitely did not qualify to be in the nobility, as he was not noble in my opinion. Orthodox brother Constantine and Orthodox sister Andrea are also correct in that their Parliament is dominated by atheists, protestants, and Catholics. In my opinion, they have no business telling Orthodox People how to conduct their Church affairs. Only the Orthodox Church is the only true faith, and the only true Church, founded by Jesus Christ himself . Now you see why our Saints, Elders, Bishops, Priests, etc say the ecumenical nonsense movement is no good! Glory be to our God! Just my humble opinion.
Alexander Leitner9/12/2022 3:36 pm
This is not a "smart" move! This is a new schism. An apostasy! Are we anglicans? Where secular rulers can create their own churches? Is Christ the head of the church or politicians? Horrible times we are living in...
Antiochene Son9/12/2022 3:31 pm
The President of Turkey (as successor as the Ottoman Sultan) also has a veto on the Ecumenical Patriarch.
David9/12/2022 10:48 am
I have no doubt that the Latvian Church was privy to what was going on, knew it was coming, and support it (as this statement demonstrates). The UOC's autocephaly (let's just call it what it is) set the blueprint, and Latvia has followed (the only difference between them being that Metropolitan Onuphry preempted Ukrainian government action). The longer this goes on, the more MP Churches will follow. Russia may win the military victory, but at the Moscow Patriarchate's expense.
Dionysius Redington9/12/2022 5:33 am
True or False (10 points): The Russian Orthodox Church has never once in a thousand years allowed state meddling in its affairs, or used state mechanisms to achieve its own ends, or aligned itself with state policy. --Dionysius Redington
Constantine9/12/2022 4:08 am
Latvia is not a Christian country, their parliament is dominated by godless Papists and heathen Lutherans. Those who go along with these pagans are no different than the Uniates and should be treated as such.
Reader J9/12/2022 1:13 am
So they basically accepted nothing and thanked the government.
Mariko Hishamunda9/11/2022 6:41 pm
This is exactly how the autocephalous Local Orthodox Churches of Austria-Hungary gained autocephaly under the Habsburgs and no one had trouble accepting those churches, one of them even helped create the modern-day Serbian Orthodox patriarchate after World War I. And indeed, in the Holy Land the Israeli, Jordanian, and Palestinian governments have a say in the selection of the Patriarch of Jerusalem. So why is this such an extreme thing now?
Andrea Nixon9/11/2022 6:10 am
How is it possible for an unbelieving president and parliament made up of protestants and athiests create such a church. How come that so many so called orthodox seem to place their beliefs in the nation and interests above the Kingdom not of this World. Who are these orthodox bishops and clergy to oblige these politicians in their demands. Are they all entrapped within the spirit of the Phanar and its proclivity for pseudo bishops and money from the United States department of State and corrupt politicians.
Joseph A.9/11/2022 5:06 am
I can't help but wonder if the time is coming to denazify the Baltics . . .
Panagiotis9/11/2022 3:15 am
In my humble opinion, this government action sets a bad precedent, and this move should be condemned by Orthodox Patriachs, Bishops, Priests, Etc........ What do you think will happen when the Antichrist or false Messiah arrives? He will be accepted by the powerful, wealthy, and cohesive internationalists, who have great influence over powerful governments, the news media, financial institutions, Etc.. What do you think will happen when an Orthodox Bishop dares to say that this Antichrist is not Jesus and is not the Messiah? The Orthodox Bishop will face the wrath of secular government and other forces. This is the truth my friends. Patriarch of Russian Church correctly stated that it is the Orthodox Church that is standing in the way of the Antichrist or false Messiah. The Russian Orthodox Church is the most powerful conservative Church that is speaking the truth about what the no-good liberals are trying to do. And these two facts my friends are why the internationalists and others want to see a weak Orthodox Church. Weak and stupid people will easily be fooled, and will accept the Antichrist or false Messiah, and thereby deny that Jesus Christ was the Messiah. Learn about history. Educate yourselves. Study the background, including ethnicity, religion, ancestry, etc of important figures. Read about what our Orthodox Church has stated about the Antichrist or false Messiah, including what Bishop Averky, the Greek Elders, early Church leaders, and others have said, including prior articles on this website. Put the pieces of the puzzle together and use the brain that Almighty God gave to you. Pray fervently, with all your heart, to The Panagia and God. Teach others about the truth. Glory be to our True God Jesus Christ!....... Just my humble opinion.
Georgios9/10/2022 11:41 pm
A local church has any right to want autocephaly or to express it, but that's totally not the way to gain it, actually it is a violent action of raw intervantion of state in church affairs and here we have also the tragic peculiarity that this movement is only about the orthodox church of this country and not of any other denomination! The local church of Latvia should and must follow the holy canons and this state should respect the religious affairs and its minorities something that it is not happening as we can clearly see here.
Niklaus 9/10/2022 10:07 pm
The Latvian bishops will have to answer at the Last Judgement as to why did they so carelessly and willfully ignored sacred canons of the Church that they swore to uphold.
Rdr Daniel9/10/2022 9:01 pm
"The state has determined that the Latvian Orthodox Church is legally independent from any Church center located outside Latvia." "The Synod of the Latvian Orthodox Church lovingly calls on the clergy and laity to preserve the peaceful order of the spirit, to maintain the unity of our Church, strictly observing the laws of our Latvian state." As I believed when the lockdowns first took place once a local church folds before the state it keeps doing so. Are there so few bishops who are true bishops like St Ambrose of Milan? I can only think of two or three faithful bishops. It now behooves the faithful both clergy and laity to protest, and not to let the bishop turn Orthodoxy into a Latvian state church.
Mihalis Chatzi9/10/2022 7:01 pm
A very smart move from the Latvian Government and the Latvian Orthodox Church.
Steve9/10/2022 4:04 pm
"God, bless Latvia! Our dear fatherland, do bless Latvia, oh, do bless it! Where Latvian daughters bloom, where Latvian sons sing, let us dance in happiness there, in our Latvia!" - English translation of the Latvian National Anthem
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