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HomeLithuaniaPatriarchate of Constantinople set to complete church structure set-up in Lithuania

Patriarchate of Constantinople set to complete church structure set-up in Lithuania

The Patriarchate of Constantinople will complete the establishment of an Orthodox Church structure in Lithuania – an exarchate – later this week, one of its members said on Wednesday.

The structure will be established in Lithuania under canon law following the arrival of the head of the new exarchate, Estonian priest Justinus Kiviloo, priest Gintaras Sungaila said.

“With his arrival, the formation of the church structure in Lithuania will be completed,” Sungaila told BNS. “With the canonical side of the matter settled, we are now going to register as a religious community under secular law.”

Kiviloo will arrive in Lithuania on Friday and hold his first service on Saturday.

Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople announced his intention to set up a church structure in Lithuania in March when he visited the country and reinstated five former priests of the Lithuanian Orthodox Archdiocese, which is subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate

Sungaila says the new exarchate will seek the status of a traditional religious community.

“We want to have the legal status of a traditional religious community as in Lithuania it was our religious community that established the first official church structure in the 14th century, the Lithuanian Metropolia. It was the structure of the Patriarchate of Constantinople,” he said.

Orthodox Christians in Lithuania are considered one of the nine traditional religious communities, so the recognition of the Exarchate of Constantinople will not require a Seimas resolution as the decision on their registration will be made by the Justice Ministry.

Such recognition would also allow the exarchate to receive financial state allocated to traditional religious communities.

According to Sungaila, the new exarch plans to meet with representatives of Lithuanian state institutions that decide on the registration of a religious community. The clergy have not yet discussed in detail how they would spend state aid, if allocated, he added.

Five members of the new exarchate were defrocked by the Lithuanian Orthodox Archdiocese in 2022 for their alleged canonical offenses, but Constantinople later ruled that they were punished for their position on the issue of Russia’s invasion in Ukraine, not for breaking the canonical rules.

The new exarchate will include a total of ten clergy and ten congregations in different Lithuanian cities.

Sungaila says Orthodox Christians subordinate to Constantinople do not yet have their own houses of worship in Lithuania and either rent spaces or are allowed to use spaces for free by Roman Catholic and Protestant religious communities.

Source: BNS

(Reproduction of BNS information in mass media and other websites without written consent of BNS is prohibited.)

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