In a statement posted on its website, the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church announced that the nine-member commission would be headed by Patriarch Cyril of Moscow.
The request for the change was submitted by elements of the Lithuanian church who were unhappy with Cyril’s support for the Russian – led invasion on February 24.
“We have decided to form a commission to consider the question of amending the law of the Diocese of Vilnius-Lithuania,” the report said, adding that its results would be submitted to the “Episcopal Conference”.
The Russian organization TASS reports that the Lithuanian diocese belongs to the Patriots of Moscow and unites the churches and monasteries in the territory of Lithuania.
Vladislav Sipin, a professor at the Moscow Theological Academy, one of the members of the commission, said the transfer of the diocese to the jurisdiction of Constantinople was not questionable.
Sibin acknowledged that the Lithuanian church in the Russian Orthodox Church could be granted autonomous status, as in Estonia and Latvia.
In those two Baltic countries, he explained to TASS, 20 to 30% of the national population are Orthodox, but in Lithuania Orthodox Belarusians and Russians.
“There is no special logic for the diocese to have autonomous church status,” Sibin said.
Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonide, in a letter to the patriotic Bartholomew of Constantinople, supported the demand for a change of appointment.
“The general support of Moscow’s patriot Cyril for Russia’s war against Ukraine is unacceptable to some Lithuanian Orthodox Christians, so, according to the Prime Minister, it is natural and humane. […] They have the right to practice their faith without compromising their conscience, “said Simonite’s spokeswoman BNS, quoting The Baltic Times.
In the letter, Simonit said he was ready to meet with Bartholomew to discuss the possible role of the government in re-establishing the activities of the “Thai Church” in Lithuania, according to a spokesman.
Simonite said in the letter that the Eastern tradition is the second largest traditional religion in Lithuania and that its community has grown with the arrival of more than 50,000 Ukrainian refugees.
“Only the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople can decide to re-establish the church or parishes of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in Lithuania,” the spokesman said.
“The Lithuanian government will engage in this process to the extent necessary to ensure the faith, conscience and religious freedom enshrined in Article 26 of the Constitution for all Lithuanian citizens,” he added.
According to the newspaper, the letter of the Prime Minister of Lithuania was delivered to Bartholomew on May 18 by the Lithuanian Ambassador to Turkey, Ricardos Decudis.
The move was not supported by the head of the Lithuanian Orthodox Diocese, Innocencio, who criticized the government for unknowingly funding the request.
According to Innocent, the majority of Lithuanian Orthodox Christians do not think about changing the jurisdiction.
The head of the Lithuanian Orthodox Church has previously fired five priests who criticized the Russian Orthodox Church’s support for the Ukraine invasion and the Kremlin.
Innocent accused the Orthodox clergy of calling for the transfer of power to Constantinople, a threat to the stability of Lithuanian society.
The Lithuanian Orthodox Church, one of Lithuania’s nine traditional religious communities, has 2.7 million followers in the Baltic, mostly 5% of Catholics.
Cyril, who has close ties to the Kremlin, in his speeches appealed to the Russians to close ties with the Kremlin and the Russian military in the holy war against the “Antichrist”, which represents the Ukrainian government and Western supporters.
The Russian patriot promoted the idea of a “Russian world” that would include places where the Russian language was spoken and practiced the Orthodox faith and should become Moscow’s sphere of influence, regardless of international borders, in a Messianic mission to protect the Russians. Russians their traditional values.
Even today, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (UPTS) announces its severance from Moscow’s Patriarchate due to its open support for Russian “special military action” in Ukraine.
“We express our disagreement with the position of Moscow’s patriot Cyril on the Ukraine war,” the statement from UPTS said on its website.
That is why the Council of UPTS today decided to declare “full autonomy and independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church”.
“The Council urges the authorities in Ukraine and Russia to continue the negotiation process and find a strong and sensible word to stop the bloodshed,” he added.
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