Gulbis to take his beef to Benedict

  • 2005-08-17
  • Staff and wire reports
RIGA - Maris Gulbis, leader of the New Democrats, has reportedly thought up a unique way to deal with his political opponents 's appealing to the pope.

The daily Diena reported last week that Gulbis, who recently formed the New Democrats, has become so fed up with Transport Minister Ainars Slesers' talk about Christian values for his own political benefit that he intends to write a complaint to Pope Benedict XVI.

"We will inform the pope that Ainars Slesers is invoking the church all the time, often inappropriately, and is exploiting Christian values not only in politics but also through politics, in his business projects," Gulbis told the paper.

When pressed to give an example, Gulbis, an MP who left the right-wing New Era party recently, cited Riga's recent gay parade and Slesers' statements against it. He said these statements, laced with talk of Christian values, amounted to a call for violence.

Slesers is a founder of Latvia's First Party, which prides itself on its moral fiber and the number of ministers among its leaders.

Dzintars Jaundzeikars of Latvia's First Party told the paper that the party was not going to get enmeshed in a debate with the New Democrats, though he made clear how the party perceived Gulbis' words.

"I think Maris Gulbis has some mental problems, now that he is writing to the Roman pope about a small political party," said Jaundzeikars.

He added that Latvia's First Party was the only one in the country whose meetings always open with a common prayer. He said the party has garnered unprecedented state support for the Christian church, including church renovation as a form of promoting religious tourism.

Slesers told Diena that Gulbis, a man who left his wife and four children and, most recently, New Era, should not speak about moral and ethical matters.