MOSCOW, October 1 – Novosti. The Department for External Church Relations of the Moscow Patriarchate will soon receive an appeal from the Minister of Justice of Latvia on autocephaly, said the head of the department, Metropolitan Anthony (Sevryuk) of Volokolamsk.
“One of these days, the department for external church relations should receive an appeal from the Ministry of Justice of Latvia with a demand to grant autocephaly to the Latvian church. So far, such an appeal has not been received. But if it arrives, it will put us in an uncomfortable position: after all, autocephaly is given to the petitioner. I don’t think that the ministry Justice needs a tomos, indicating that this ministry is independent of the Moscow Patriarchate,” he said in the program “Church and Peace” on the TV channel “Russia 24”.
Earlier, the media, citing the Latvian national news agency LETA, reported that the Latvian government authorized Minister of Justice Janis Bordans to apply on behalf of the state to Patriarch Kirill for the issuance of a tomos (church document) declaring autocephaly of the Latvian Orthodox Church. Archpriest Nikolai Balashov , adviser to the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia , then told Novosti that such an appeal would not be legitimate, since the Ministry of Justice was not authorized to negotiate issues of church law.
The LOC is an autonomous church within the Moscow Patriarchate , which, according to the charter of the Russian Orthodox Church , is governed by its primate, the Metropolitan of Riga and All Latvia , as well as its own synod. Autonomy was granted to her in 1992 by the tomos of Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia.
On September 5, Latvian President Egils Levits submitted amendments to the law on the LOC to parliament, according to which “the fully independent and independent (autocephalous) status of the Latvian Orthodox Church is recognized.” In his opinion, “denial of any connection with the Moscow Patriarch” is important for Orthodox believers in Latvia and national security. The Saeima of Latvia urgently adopted the amendments on 8 September. In the Russian Orthodox Church, this decision was called a “crazy anti-constitutional intrusion” of the secular state into the affairs of the church.