VILNIUS – Metropolitan Inokentiy, head of the Lithuanian Orthodox Church, on Wednesday signed decrees defrocking four former priests: Vitalijus Mockus, Vitalis Dauparas, Georgij Ananjev and Vladimir Seliavko.
The move came after the Lithuanian Diocesan ecclesiastical court found the former priests guilty of canonical offenses, according to the Chancellery of the Lithuanian Orthodox Archdiocese.
"The court found that Mockus, Dauparas, Ananjev and Seliavko, in collaboration with state authorities, took active steps to establish a parallel ecclesiastical structure in Lithuania under the jurisdiction of the Patriarchate of Constantinople," it said in a statement.
In their schismatic activity, the clerics completely rejected the legal procedure for the transition from one local church to another, it said.
Their actions were considered by the court exclusively in the context of canon law, according to the Chancellery.
"The court's decision has nothing to do with politics or events in the international sphere," it said.
This follows the defrocking of Gintaras Sungaila, another priest involved in efforts to break away from Moscow's jurisdiction, by Inokentiy last week. The priest was dismissed from his duties in April.
In October 2018, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople agreed to recognize the independence of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
The Lithuanian Orthodox Church, one of Lithuania's nine traditional religious communities, is a metropolitanate within the Patriarchate of Moscow and All Russia.