Lithuania: Constantinople’s defrocked priests serve first Liturgy, Patriarch Bartholomew to visit

Vilnius, March 20, 2023

Photo: ​Telegram Photo: ​Telegram     

Yesterday, the defrocked clerics of Lithuania who have gathered under the omophorion of the Patriarch of Constantinople held their first public Liturgy.

The Liturgy was held at the Church of St. Nicholas on Lukiškės Square in Vilnius, reports the Natallya With 2 Ls Telegram channel. The service comes as the former priests and their followers are awaiting the visit of Patriarch Bartholomew.

Five priests were defrocked by the Lithuanian Orthodox Church last year for a number of ecclesiastical crimes, including “schismatic activity, the intention and organization of the transition to another Church jurisdiction without the blessing of their bishop.”

Photo: ​Telegram Photo: ​Telegram     

The former priests maintain that they were defrocked for their anti-war stance, although the hierarchs, clergy, and laity of the Lithuanian Church have also expressed an anti-war stance many times over.

In confirmation of the charges against them, the clerics already appealed to Constantinople for reception before they were even defrocked, although Constantinople has no canonical authority in Lithuania. Nevertheless, Pat. Bartholomew declared last month that he has the authority to lift the canonical sanctions imposed by other Churches and to receive clerics without the necessary canonical release from their previous hierarch.

Meanwhile, Pat. Bartholomew is scheduled to meet with Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė in Vilnius on Tuesday, reports He will also meet with the defrocked priests and their followers.

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