While recording an Orthodox church service at the Riga Holy Trinity Sergius Women's Monastery in Valgunde Parish, producers noticed that it included a prayer for Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church, therefore the Editorial Board of LTV canceled the broadcast of the specific service and decided to stop recording and showing new Orthodox services, LTV anounced.
The intercession for Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church, was heard on August 19 at the service being filmed by Latvian Television to be broadcast on September 3. It will not now go out.
"Praying for Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church, who openly supports and even blesses Russia's bloody war in Ukraine, contradicts not only the values and beliefs represented by us, LTV, but also the editorial position. We categorically condemn Russia's war in Ukraine, so we currently consider it absolutely unacceptable to continue to broadcast Orthodox religious services, in which prayers for Patriarch Kirill could be heard," said LTV editor-in-chief Sigita Roķe.
The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, is known as a keen supporter of war criminal and Russian President Vladimir Putin, and a supporter of Russian aggression in Ukraine. He is also known for his penchant for luxury wristwatches.
This is not the first time that LTV has noted intercession for Kirill in Orthodox services. The same, for example, happened last year on August 28.
At the same time, the editor-in-chief of LTV pointed out that this is not an appeal against Orthodoxy itself as a belief system.
"We do not in any way forbid the Orthodox to practice their religion, we respect all religions. In any case, this does not mean that at some point we will stop broadcasting ecumenical services or something like that," Roķe said.
The Latvian Orthodox Church refused to comment, apart from saying that it must have been a mistake. Although the prayer is prescribed in the liturgy, it is not impossible to refuse it. Nikita Andrejevs, the scientific assistant of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Latvia, theologian partly agrees with this.
"From a theoretical point of view, the mention of the patriarch is a mandatory part of the service, but as it has been in history and today, it is possible to change something," said the theologian.
"However, it is one thing that the church mentions the patriarch literally in the service, another thing, of course, is the connection with Moscow, which can remain without mentioning the patriarch," the theologian pointed out.
"Apparently, the Orthodox Church has failed to convince the public that they are not connected to Moscow and Moscow's aggression," he added.
Although theologian Nikita Andrejevs admits that the Latvian Orthodox Church itself is to blame for what happened, he is sorry for such an outcome.
"The worst thing about this whole process is that the Orthodox, so to speak, ordinary people, regardless of what they believe in politically and so on... we group them all in one such box," said the theologian.
Broadcasts of religious services take place in accordance with the agreement between LTV and the foundation "Ecumenical Media Council Fund" (EMPF) - LTV has so far recorded and broadcast the religious services of the four largest Christian denominations in Latvia - Lutheran, Catholic, Orthodox and Baptist.
The agreement stipulates that EMPF is responsible for the compliance of the content of the services to be broadcast with Latvian legal norms, moreover, when meeting with EMPF after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russia on February 24, 2022, LTV received confirmation that there will be no prayers for the patriarch in the recorded and broadcast services of the Latvian Orthodox Church Kirill.
At the moment, not being sure that the intercession for Patriarch Kirill will not be repeated in Orthodox religious services, further broadcasting of them on LTV is suspended.