Saeima adopts law on splitting Latvia's Orthodox church from Moscow

On Thursday, September 8, the Saeima referred the amendments to the Law of the Latvian Orthodox Church, which aim to ensure that the church is fully independent and autocephalous, to the Human Rights and Public Affairs Commission. Later on the same day, the Saeima approved the amendments in two readings.

73 MPs voted for the amendments, three voted against, one abstained.

In a statement to the Saeima, the President Egils Levits had previously stated 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. Currently, the Latvian Orthodox Church is operating under Moscow's patriarchate, which in turn supports Russia's regime and the country's hostilities against Ukraine. The new draft law aims to eliminate this impact.

"With these amendments to the law, which are now submitted to the Saeima, the Latvian State will recognize that the Latvian Orthodox Church is completely independent and autocephalous, and it does not depend on one other church outside Latvia. When the law comes into force, any influence or power of the Patriarch of Moscow over our Orthodox Church will be eliminated," said Levits.

According to the Latvian Orthodox Church, the situation will only be commented upon after the adoption of the law. It is not clear to what extent the church was involved in drafting the bill. President Levits said the church had been informed.

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