Lettland: Bill proposed requiring Orthodox bishops to be Latvian citizens

The Seimas Commission on Human Rights and Public Affairs in Latvia has proposed introducing a clause into the law that the hierarchs of the Latvian Orthodox Church must have lived in the country for 10 years or more and be citizens of Latvia, reports Sputnik with reference to the Seimas’ website. An annotation to the draft law states that the citizenship and permanent residence criteria would apply to officials of religious organizations whose leadership is located outside of Latvia. The goal is to strengthen the autonomy of these organizations and to avoid potential influence from abroad. Commission representatives believe this would strengthen state and public security in Latvia as well.

The Latvian Orthodox Church is an autonomous body within the Russian Orthodox Church. The law would apply to primates, metropolitans, archbishops, bishops, and candidates for these positions. The current primate, His Eminence Metropolitan Alexander of Riga was born in Latvia and holds Latvian citizenship.

Consultations were held with representatives of the Latvian Orthodox Church and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs during the preparation of the draft law. The Commission asks that the bill be considered urgently. A law was adopted on the Latvian Church in 2008, according to which the state respects the decisions of the Church on canonical matters, which cannot be appealed to state institutions. The state also annually allocates for the restoration and renovation work underway at a monastery in Jelgava. (Quelle: www.orthochristian.com, 4. Juni 2019)