Patriarch of Constantinople grants autonomy to Lithuanian Orthodox Church
The Lithuanian Orthodox Church, which has been making independent decisions for a long time, has requested autonomy from the Moscow Patriarchate. After a conflict within the church over criticism of Russia’s war in Ukraine, the Patriarch of Constantinople has granted autonomy to the church, making it the only one of the three former Baltic republics to have officially approved autonomous status.
The move comes after conflict within the Lithuanian Orthodox Church over criticism of Russia’s war in Ukraine and the Moscow Patriarchate
The Patriarch of Constantinople will come to Lithuania to grant autonomy to the local Orthodox Church. This request was made by the Lithuanian Orthodox Church, which is another church to depart from Moscow. Lithuania, the only one of the three former Baltic republics, does not have an officially approved autonomous status, although it does not maintain financial ties with the Moscow Patriarchate and has been making independent decisions for a long time.
It is unknown how long such a situation would have continued without a conflict within the Lithuanian Orthodox Church. In May 2022, five Orthodox priests were dismissed from performing spiritual services by the decision of Metropolitan of Lithuania and Vilnius Archbishop Inakentij. The official reason was “violation of the oath, perjury, disobedience to the bishop, organizing a conspiracy against the bishop and his spiritual brothers, concern for peace in the Church, and a desire to switch to another church jurisdiction without the consent of their bishop.”
Unfortunately, the reason was that the priests criticized Russia’s war in Ukraine and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russia. It should be noted that Metropolitan of Vilnius Inakentij also condemned Russia’s war against Ukraine in his statement in April 2022.
The dismissed priests appealed the decision of Metropolitan to the highest appellate instance, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. They also requested permission from this Patriarchate to renew Lithuania’s canonical subordination.
The first question was considered substantively in the complaint. The Patriarchate of Constantinople returned the title to Lithuanian Orthodox clerics. The second question, most likely, will also be resolved substantively.
On the eve of the visit of the Patriarch of Constantinople (March 16), the Holy Synod of the Moscow Patriarchate sent to the Episcopal Assembly a request by Metropolitan of Lithuania and Vilnius Archbishop Inakentij for the grant of autonomy to the Lithuanian Orthodox Church.