Lithuanian Orthodox Church
Lithuanian Orthodox Church is an Orthodox Christian church.
Back in 19th century the Slavs of Lithuania usually adhered to one of two religions: Russian Orthodox Church or the Greek Catholic Church (Uniate). Greek Catholic Church was genrally supported by the government, whereas Russian Orthodox Church was seen as unloyal and therefore discouraged. Especially this became true as Russia annexed Lithuanian and Venedic territories.
Russia, on the other hand, persecuted uniates and Uniate churches were abolished in Russian-annexed territories.
After the First Great War Lithuania acquired independence and it included large Russian Orthodox territories. Fearing the usage of such churches for the anti-Lithuanian propaganda the government supported the idea of separate Lithuanian Orthodox Church. It no longer supported Greek Catholic Church, as Catholocisim was associated with Veneda in Lithuanian minds. Lithuanian Orthodox Church was fully established by 1924. Such establishment was protested by the Russian Orthodox Church and Russia. Therefore, certain pro-Russian Slavs refused to join Lithuanian Orthodox Church.
After the 1926 Revolt the establishment of the church became faster. With the help of state authorities Russian Orthodox churches in the east were captured and given to Lithuanian Orthodox Church which then established several additional eparchies, now effectively covering whole Lithuania. Lithuanian Orthodox Church was declared the only legal Orthodox church in Lithuania. It received recognition from Patriarch of Constantinopole during his quarel with the Snorist Russian Patriarch.
Lithuanian (Reformed Lithuanian) liturgy was promoted and by 1930 it was the only liturgy followed.
Russian Orthodox Church continued to exist in underground in the eastern part of the country.
As Lithuania was occupied by Russia in the Second Great War, the Lithuanian Orthodox Church was banned and all its members forcibly converted to the Russian Orthodox faith. After the War the Church was re-established again in the RTC. However, now the Russian Orthodox Church became recognised and legal as well according to the Treaty of Visby. The Church buildings were partitioned according to the first census of RTC - that is, in proportion to the number of adherents (e.g. there were 11 Orthodox churches in Vilnius, and according to census 75% of Vilnius Orthodoxes were adherents of the Lithuanian Orthodox Church, therefore 8 church buildings went to this Church, and 3 - to the Russian Orthodox Church).
Lithuanian Orthodox Church therefore lost many adherents. It relinquished its eastern eparchies (which were no longer part of Lithuania) and instead attempted to cover whole RTC by establishing eparchy of Warsina covering whole Veneda (and from 1970s officially whole western Europe as well, although there were few adherents there at the time). It also was no longer monolingual Lithuanian as mass was celebrated in Belarussian, Ukrainian and Vened as well (but Old Church Slavonic mass was never reintroduced.
However, the Church struggled in the first post war years. Over the time it gained more adherents as some Russian Orthodoxes became disillusioned by the pro-Snorist position of that church. In 1970s the church started to establish global presence by trying to keep contact with emigrants and established parishes in such cities as New Amsterdam.
A new era came with the fall of Snor in Russia. In 1993 the Russian Patriarch recognised the Lithuanian Orthodox Church finally (although he continued to enjoy the right to have Russian Orthodox eparchies in Lithuania) and in 1995 Eparchy of the East was established in Minsk for Belarus, Ukraine and Russia.
Lithuanian Orthodox Church is led by Patriarch of Vilnius and is partitioned into eparchies.
Currently the Lithuanian Orthodox Church has the following eparchies:
- Eparchy of Vilnius (established in 1924)
- Eparchy of Kūvalas (established in 1926)
- Eparchy of Gardinas (established in 1924)
- Eparchy of Africa (established in 1936 as eparchy of Naujasis Vilnius, since 1940 operating as unrecognised Pakštuvan Orthodox Church, in 1942 moved to Salisbury (Rhodesia) and rejoined the Lithuanian Orthodox Church, renamed to the current name in 1952)
- Eparchy of Warsina (established in 1954)
- Eparchy of America (established in 1978 in Tejas)
- Eparchy of the East (established in 1995 in Minsk, but not considered to be anyhow related to the interwar Eparchy of Miniškis)
When Lithuania was larger to the east in the interwar period it also had the following eparchies:
- Eparchy of Miniškis (established in 1925, officially suppressed in 1952)
- Eparchy of Piltiškis (established in 1926, officially suppressed in 1952)
- Eparchy of Mazūras (established in 1928, officially suppressed in 1952)
Unlike in the interwar period, when Lithuanain Orthodox Church covered only Lithuania, now it technically has global reach. However, in reality the most dense network of churches exist only in Lithuania. Eparchy of Warsina has relatively many churches as well. Other eparchies have few churches, and mainly organise masses in various non-religious buildings (or other orthodox churches). And this happens only in several cities where there are adhreents. So while the Eparchy of America has a glorious name, in fact it operates in full extent only in a few cities of Tejas and NAL.
This page was created by Abdul-aziz.