08 September 2022, 19:06
Latvian Saeima endorses law on independence of Latvian Orthodox Church
Riga, September 8, Interfax/BNS - The Latvian Saeima at a plenary session on Thursday passed in the final reading amendments to the law on the Latvian Orthodox Church (LOC) submitted by President Egils Levits, which envision changing the LOC status so that it would operate fully autonomously and independently, the BNS news agency reported.
The LOC used to act under the Moscow Patriarchate. According to Levits, the amendments will reinstate the LOC's historical status and rule out any authority of the Moscow Patriarchate over the Latvian Church.
The law stipulates that the LOC with all its dioceses, parishes and institutions is completely independent and not dependent on the authority of any Church outside Latvia.
The law establishes a fully autocephalous status for the Church and stipulates that it will be headed by a primate of the Church who is not dependent on any Church authority outside of Latvia.
It is also stipulated that the Church will inform the presidential chancellery in writing of the appointment or dismissal of church leaders, metropolitans, archbishops and bishops. The presidential chancellery will then announce the reshuffle in an official publication, as well as forward this information to an institution responsible for registering religious organizations and their institutions.
The summary of the bill said that this regulation will make it possible to verify that an elected person meets all the requirements of the regulations and the interests of national security. By October 1, the Church must notify the presidential chancellery of the incumbent church head, metropolitans, archbishops, and bishops.
It is stipulated that by October 31, the LOC must bring its charter into consistency with the amendments to the law on the status of the Church by making the necessary changes to it.
The authors of the bill believe that by amending the law Latvia does not affect and does not interfere in matters of the church's teaching and the canon law.
When asked whether the LOC will be able to continue contacts with the Russian Orthodox Church following the enactment of the law, Levits emphasized the known "canonical ties," but at the same time noted that the LOC will not be linked to the Russian Church. The Latvian Church as an independent Church can communicate with all Churches of the world, the president added.
The bill was drafted jointly with the Justice Ministry and discussed with all competent state institutions, and the National Security Council made a decision on it.