Wednesday, May 31, 2023

    Lithuania’s PM: Orthodox Christians in Lithuania should have a choice, which church to go to

    Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė of Lithuania during a meeting with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew thanked him for the attention he pays to the Lithuanian Orthodox community and the issues concerning it.

    That’s according to the Lithuanian government’s press service.

    The prime minister said it was “natural and human” that after Russia’s attack on Ukraine, supported by Moscow Patriarch Kirill, “it is no longer possible for some Lithuanian Orthodox Christians to be part of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Archdiocese of Vilnius and Lithuania without a conflict with their conscience”.

    “It’s quite understandable and historically justified that in order to practice their faith without any conflict with their conscience representatives of national communities appealed to His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to accept them into the mother Church of Constantinople,” Šimonytė said.

    While she said she backed the appeal, she also stressed that the final decision rested with the Patriarchate of Constantinople.

    “This is a matter for the Church and the faithful to decide,” the prime minister said.

    She stressed, however, that the government “will do everything” to ensure the freedom of belief, conscience and religion, enshrined in the Lithuanian constitution.

    “The state and its officials cannot interfere or try to influence the canonical decisions of Churches, but when they are made, it would be hypocritical to pretend that we don’t understand their importance,” the prime minister underlined.

    As reported earlier, Bartholomew for the first time arrived in Lithuania where he signed with Prime Minister Šimonytė an agreement on bilateral cooperation.