President urges full independence for Latvia's Orthodox Church

On Monday, the President of Latvia, Egils Levits, has submitted amendments to the Law of the Orthodox Church of Latvia in order to fully recognize the autonomous and independent (autocephalous) status of the Orthodox Church, the president said in a statement on September 5.

In a statement to the Saeima, the President said that there is a risk that the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church could unilaterally eliminate the full independence of the Latvian Orthodox Church and de facto change its canonical status.

The proposed draft law means that the state has expresis verbis recognized the fully independent and autocephalous status of the Latvian Orthodox Church. The law will therefore accurately reflect and strengthen the situation that the Latvian Orthodox Church is independent of any other power and influence of a church outside Latvia, Levits said.

Levits said: “The withdrawal of any link with the patriarch of Moscow is an essential issue for our Orthodox, all Latvian society, and national security.”

He said that the draft law had been discussed with all the competent national authorities.

“We all agree that we should not hesitate. I have asked for the Saeima bill to be recognized as urgent and adopted as soon as possible,” the president said.

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