LATVIA: State TV bans Orthodox services from broadcast
CNE NEWS (29.08.2023) – The Latvian state broadcaster refuses to broadcast Orthodox worship services any longer. It implemented the ban after nuns prayed for the Russian Patriarch Kirill.
The broadcaster, LTV discovered the prayer for Kirill during the recording of an Orthodox service at a branch of the Riga Holy Trinity Sergius Convent in Valgunda, Jauns writes. Praying for the Russian Patriarch is controversial because of his support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
In response, LTV decided to stop streaming all Orthodox church services. According to LTV editor-in-chief Sigita Roque, praying for Kirill contradicts the values of the LTV but also the position of the editorial board, she says on the website of LTV. “We categorically condemn the Russian war in Ukraine. Therefore, at the present time, we consider it absolutely unacceptable to continue broadcasting Orthodox services where you can hear prayers for Patriarch Kirill.”
Roque points out that the broadcaster is not categorically against Orthodox Christians. “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.”
The Latvian Orthodox Church only responded that there must have been a mistake, Dagen writes. However, Nikita Andrejevs, who works at the theology department of the University of Latvia, says that it is theoretically mandatory to commemorate the Patriarch during church services. However, Andrejevs stresses that there is room for exceptions. “It is one thing that the church mentions the Patriarch in the service. Another thing, of course, is the connection to Moscow, which can remain without mentioning the Patriarch.”
The theologian believes that the Orthodox Church in Latvia has failed to convince the public that they are not connected to Moscow and its aggression, he says to LTV.
However, he does feel sorry for the Orthodox. “The worst thing about this whole process is that ordinary people, regardless of what they believe in politically and so on, we group them all in one box.”
LTV has broadcasted religious services of the four largest Christian churches in the country: Lutheran, Catholic, Orthodox and Baptist. After February 24, the broadcaster received confirmation that no commemorations of Patriarch Kirill would occur. However, as this incident shows that this cannot be guaranteed, the broadcaster decided to suspend Orthodox services from its broadcasting program.