Latvian gov’t plans to ask Patriarch Kirill for tomos of autocephaly for local Church

Riga, September 20, 2022

Orthodox Church in Riga. Photo: Orthodox Church in Riga. Photo:     

The Latvian Cabinet of Ministers has authorized Minister of Justice Jānis Bordāns to appeal to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia on behalf of the state with a request to issue a tomos of autocephaly to the Latvian Orthodox Church.

The Minister is also tasked with formally informing the Patriarch about the amendments adopted by the Saeima, the Latvian Parliament, which legally define the Latvian Orthodox Church as wholly independent, the Ministry of Justice told the Baltic News Service today, reports Interfax-Religion (the Baltic News Service is the sole representative of Interfax in the Baltic states).

The Saeima adopted the relevant amendments earlier this month, citing national security concerns, as the Latvian Church is autonomous structure within the Moscow Patriarchate.

The Latvian Church didn’t protest the move from the government. Its press service informed the faithful:

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.

For the Russian Church, the state’s decision is a “crazy, unconstitutional intrusion,” as Archpriest Nikolai Balashov, adviser to Pat. Kirill, told RIA-Novosti.

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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Panagiotis9/23/2022 4:29 am
The editor is correct in that Orthodox pray in Church for the country (or land), the Civil Authorities (or president), and the Armed Forces (or those in public service) of the country or land that they actually reside or live in. Speaking of president, I researched the ethnicity of the President of Latvia, and it appears that he is largely of NON-ethnic Latvian descent. His father is apparently of pure Ashikenazi Jewish descent. His mother is apparently of mixed Baltic German and ethnic Latvian descent. So isn't that something, the leader of the Latvian People is himself largely of non-ethnic Latvian descent it appears! My oh my. Why do I bring up ethnicity? Why not? Do not others bring up the ethnicity of our people? Don't they bring up the Russian ethnicity of Patriarch Kirill and others? Didn't the Anglo-Saxons bring up the ethnicity of our people when they migrated to English speaking lands? Oh yes my friends, years ago the Anglo-Saxons and kindred peoples looked down on ethnic Orthodox People, and subjected our people to economic, political, social, and educational discrimination. I speak the truth, and I do not care if it is politically correct or not. Glory be to our God! Just my humble opinion.
Joseph Lipper9/22/2022 1:07 pm
Dear Editor, the link to what Fr. George Maksimov actually said (neither myself nor the UOJ article intimates that his position is that of the ROC) is a YouTube link provided at the bottom of the UOJ article, but since you ask, here it is:
Editor9/22/2022 11:49 am
Joseph Lipper: Thank you for the link to an article that likewise does not provide a link to what Fr. George actually said. But even if Fr. George himself takes such a stand, as the UOJ article points out that is not the Russian Orthodox Church's position. So you can take Fr. George to task if you like (which is precisely what the UOJ article is doing), but don't intimate that his is the position of the Russian Orthodox Church (which is likewise not what the UOJ article did). And Fr. George has never claimed to be a theologian, only a polemicist.
Nikolai9/22/2022 5:23 am
The reality is, that there are those Orthodox believers who do not want to and will not abandon their Mother Church despite what the authorities, politicians or others may want!
Panagiotis9/22/2022 1:06 am
The majority of Orthodox Christians in the Latvian Orthodox Church are of Russian ethnicity, and they do not want to leave their Mother Church. Patriarch Kirill must stand firm and refuse what the Latvian government wants him to do. They have no business trying this nonsense. For my Orthodox Brothers who are saying otherwise, I urge you to wake up. Please wake up and study history. Ask yourself this: Why has the Orthodox Church been broken into pieces, but they never did this to the Roman Catholic Church? Yes my friends, some questions people don't like you to ask. But the internationalists in the West and elsewhere have been trying to destroy the Orthodox Church for years. They hate the Russian Orthodox Church because they are the most powerful of the Orthodox Churches, and the most conservative. They hate Patriarch Kirill, because he speaks the truth about the sodomites, who are very wealthy, very vindicative, and very powerful. They hate Patriarch Kirill because he correctly stated that the Orthodox Church is standing in the way of the false Messiah or Antichrist. Yes I speak the truth my friends. The internationalists dismembered the Orthodox Church of Constantinople many many decades ago, because they hated the Greek Church at that time (and they still do), just like they hate the Russian Church at this time. Don't believe the never-ending stream of anti-Russian propaganda coming from sewer mouths of Western entities. They are masters of lies, propaganda, and deception. Mark my words, what they are doing now in Latvia, they will one day do in West. Yes my friends, they will one day say that the ethnic churches in West will have to separate from their Mother Churches, and then how would you like that? Just my humble opinion.
Joseph Lipper9/21/2022 10:16 pm
Dear Editor, here's the link:
Editor9/21/2022 9:45 pm
Paul: At church, Orthodox people pray for the authorities and armed forces of the country in which they live, even if their Mother Church is located in another country. Joseph Lipper: Can you provide a link to Fr. George Maximov saying that the Ukrainian Church will go to hell? If you can't we can all assume that you made it up.
Joseph Lipper9/21/2022 4:29 pm
Fr. George Maksimov, the head of the missionary department of the ROC's African Exarchate, has stated that the UOC under Metropolitan Onuphry is going to Hell because they no longer commemorate Patriarch Kirill. So I'm guessing there already is a call among African clergy to follow suit. I suppose he would now say that these Latvians are headed in the same perilous direction. We. Must. Keep. Commemorating. Patriarch. Kirill.
Paul9/21/2022 3:36 pm
People should respect the nation they live in, it is rather treasonous to have Saturday Vigils which ask the Latvian faithful to pray for the Russian armed forces. Estonia has already changed jurisdiction.
Andrew9/21/2022 12:25 pm
@Dionysius Redington - The problem is that in most (all?) cases, those autonomous sub-churches do not actually want autocephaly. Rather, the governments of their countries want them to be autocephalous. So if the Russian Church agrees to grant autocephaly, that looks a lot like conceding that secular authorities have the right to determine who is or isn't autocephalous, and even to impose autocephaly on a church against its will. This puts the Russian Church between a rock and a hard place: Deny autocephaly and look like "Imperial Russianity", or grant autocephaly and look like you're conceding the right of states to determine ecclesiology.
David9/21/2022 9:10 am
This isn't about what we think or want. This is the reality. As Antiochene Son pointed out, the Ecumenical Patriachate had its Churches ripped away by the Ottomans trying to keep Nationalist forces at bay, Nationalist forces themselves, or Western Powers trying to weaken the Ottoman Empire by supporting said Nationalist forces. The Ecumenical Patriarchate didn't want this (as many laity didn't either), but they had to accept it because that was the reality of that time. Moscow is coming to the same hard decisions that the EP had to make in the 19th Century. None of the autocephalies of the 19th Century were not technically "canonical" either, but they happened. You can't blame all of this on NATO. The truth is that events were already on this course. The Ukraine War has just accelerated a process that was already underway. The wounds of the Russian Imperial and Soviet period run deep for many in the Post- Soviet Sphere. If the MP thinks in a pastoral way (which I hope they do), they will understand this, and let these Churches go in peace. ALL OF THEM (including Ukraine).
Nikolai9/20/2022 11:16 pm
It is not as simple as what some people might think or want. There are many Orthodox in different countries who do not want to abandon their Mother Russian Orthodox Church.
Dionysius Redington9/20/2022 7:30 pm
Would Moscow rather see them go under Constantinople? Unfortunately, the only way the Russian Church can retain any credibility at all is to grant immediate autocephaly to all its 'autonomous' sub-churches, even those that may not seem fully ready for it: God will preserve them. Anything less reinforces the (hopefully false) impression that Russian Orthodoxy has now been replaced by Imperial Russianity. This situation did not have to happen, but it has. --Dionysius Redington
Antiochene Son9/20/2022 3:54 pm
This is just the late Ottoman period repeating itself, with Moscow in the role of Constantinople. Finding all its former territories now in independent states and demanding autocephaly, the EP had no choice but to grant it. This doesn't have to be a disaster for the Church, but I hope Russia takes the pragmatic approach to let her former territories go in peace on good terms.
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