VILNIUS – Lithuanian Orthodox Church has criticized a recent meeting of Deputy Foreign Minister Mantas Adomenas with Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I, describing it as “acting behind the back”.
According to a press release published by the Church on Thursday, such actions by authorities “are worrying and regrettable”.
“Moreover, the public is not being informed about the moves and goals of authorities,” the press release said.
Adomenas attended the meeting, which took place in Istanbul on Monday, together with Galina Vascenkaite, adviser to the Lithuanian prime minister, and Ambassador of Lithuania in Ankara Ricardas Degutis.
The Foreign Ministry told BNS that the delegation and the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople talked about the “issues related to activities of the Orthodox Church in Lithuania, about the rights of believers and political realities of the region”.
However, Adomenas would neither confirm nor deny that the meeting also touched upon a possible restoration of canonical subordination to Constantinople.
“Decisions on organizational issues of the Church are made by the community of believers and the leadership of the Church in the first place,” he told BNS.
In spring, Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte wrote to Bartholomew I, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, backing the bid of some Lithuanian Orthodox Christians to break away from Moscow's jurisdiction. Later she stressed, however, that it was up to religious communities to make all decisions, without the government's interference.
Some Lithuanian Orthodox clergy have asked the Patriarch of Constantinople to allow Orthodox Christians in Lithuania to restore their canonical subordination to Constantinople. They are now subordinate to the Patriarchate of Moscow, whose Patriarch Kirill openly supports Russia's war against Ukraine.
Nonetheless, the head of the Lithuanian Orthodox Church pointed out that “the attempts to sow discord made by several clergymen that have taken the path of splitting the Church have not led to the desired result”.
“We believe that ensuring of peace within the Church in the country is our common task, therefore, the hierarchs of the Lithuanian Orthodox Archdiocese are absolutely open to dialogue. At the same time, we cannot agree with the government’s interference in the internal affairs of the Church,” Metropolitan Inokentiy said.
“It is with regret that I state that our calls to open a dialogue have not been heard until now. I still have not received an answer to my letter, which I sent to the prime minister in May asking for a meeting,” he added.
After some clergymen started talking about changing the canonical subordination, the Lithuanian Orthodox Church unveiled its aspirations for greater autonomy to the public.
The Lithuanian Orthodox Church, one of Lithuania's nine traditional religious communities, is a metropolitanate within the Patriarchate of Moscow and All Russia.
The Lithuanian Orthodox Church currently seeks to ensure its greater autonomy by the end of the year.
The Orthodox Churches of Latvia, Estonia and Moldova are the only Orthodox Churches within the canonical jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate that already have the kind of autonomy that is being sought by the Lithuanian Orthodox Church.