Tag Archives: Conflict

News from Lithuania

Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople has announced that his Synod has unanimously reversed the defrocking of five priests in Lithuania who were defrocked for disagreeing with the conflict in the Ukraine and the apparent support for it by the Russian Church authorities. As the vast majority of Orthodox bishops agree, defrocking cannot take place because of a difference of political opinions. This is a question of basic human rights. The priests in question have been received into the Patriarchate of Constantinople, meaning that there are now two jurisdictions in Lithuania, as there have been for nearly thirty years in Estonia. Of course, in Western Europe there are multiple jurisdictions and have been for over a century. The five priests also expect that others in Lithuania will follow their example.

Some will object that the priests in question did not receive letters of dismissal to leave from their Russian bishop (they were defrocked after they had already asked to leave). However, it is the common practice of at least one part of the Russian Church, ROCOR, to receive any number of clerics and parishes from the Patriarchate of Constantinople without letters of dismissal. This seems to be because ROCOR claims that it can receive clerics without letters of dismissal when there is an issue of conscience. And yet when clerics are leaving for reasons of conscience a ROCOR schism, as, for instance, the clerics who left ROCOR because of its schism with the Paris Archdiocese of the Russian Tradition (part of the same Local Church!) and were received into it without letters of dismissal (merely because ROCOR refused to write them!), ROCOR still defrocked them after they had been canonically received. Here we have the same situation and practice in reverse, from the Russian Church to Constantinople.

Further developments are expected.