The bishop of Balti and Falesti, Marchel district, is guided, primarily by the ecclesiastical law, and not by the state one, and if the Ministry of Justice will penalize the Church, this will cause a "civil war", thinks the bishop.

The Constitutional Court of Moldova (CCM) validated the presidential election, even if it admitted that at the poll took place serious violations. One of the serious violations from legal norm is the Church's involvement in the campaign.

The Ministry of Justice will sue the church

The Court accepted the arguments of Maia Sandu regarding the aggressive involvement in the presidential election of the representatives of the Moldovan Metropolitan. CCM refers in particular to the Metropolitan Vladimir and The bishop of Balti and Falesti district, Marchel, who used an extreme, xenophobic, homophobic and sexist language against Maia Sandu. "These facts being a matter of common knowledge and confirmed by the reports of national and international observers," said the Court. CCM asked the Parliament to adopt some clear and prompt mechanisms in order to not allow the Church's involvement in the campaign, and it reminded to the Ministry of Justice that it may sue the cults that violate the law. At the same time, CCM mentioned the possibility of a religious interruption for a period of one year for involvement in politics.

The Minister of Justice, Vladimir Cebotari, stated for Deschide.MD that the institution has not been notified on the Court's recommendation, because it's concerned now with more important issues.

Cheibas has no work to do

Asked to comment on the proposals of CCM, Father Vadim Cheibas, the Secretary of the Moldovan Metropolitan and the Metropolitan spokesman, said to contact him in half an hour. I asked if we will answer, he said "Yes" and hung up. But after half an hour he did not answer the phone and neither to the message that I sent.  

The bishop of Soroca district, John, the Metropolitan dean, the person responsible for communication in various cases related to the church and state, stated for Deschide.MD that he knows nothing about the recommendation of the Constitutional Court. He is not aware of the CCM decision of 13 December, but claims that the Metropolitan Church regrets the involvement of the priests in the campaign and even has guided the clergy not to get involved in politics.  

"I am not aware of this information, but obviously, we regret every time when someone of the cult servants are involved in the campaign, when one of our servants tries to do politics. According to the social conception of the church, the priests are not allowed to engage in any political activity, especially in the electoral campaign".

The Metropolitan Church regrets, but does not punishes

The Bishop John denies the involvement of the Metropolitan Vladimir in the campaign and says that he did not do campaigning for any of the candidates. "In the case of His Eminence the Metropolitan Vladimir, I want to tell you that he never does politics. His Eminence comes with some exhortations, to the people, but to advocate for a particular candidate during the election period, he did not do things like this," says the bishop.

Referring to the actions of Bishop Marchel, the bishop stressed that the Metropolitan Church "regrets his involvement in politics." However, Marchel is an eparchial bishop and he will come up with explanations in this regard.

At the same time, the Bishop John of Soroca consider the statement on the legal possibility to suspend the religious cult as unfounded, because the Moldovan Orthodox Church is a majority church and no one can shut down its activity.

Asked if the Metropolitan Church will somehow punish those priests who were involved in the campaign, Bishop John of Soroca said that the church warns the priests every time not to get involved in politics.

Marchel complies with the church law  

Contacted by Deschide.MD, the bishop of Balti and Falesti district, Marchel, that he respects the ecclesiastical law, and the ecclesiastical law, according to Marchel, does not contravene with the state laws and never will not oppose them. "If the state and our parliament will develop some laws that will damage my religious beliefs, they will impose me to give up the position and the ecclesiastical tradition, I will not obey to these laws. Regarding the involvement in politics, I stood up for preserving our religious treasure. I do not want anyone to waste it, no matter who it is. It will be like this every time," says the bishop of Marchel.

The bishop believes that the state officials will demonstrate their wisdom when they will harmonize the laws of the State with the Church law so that they will not contradict each other. "Not to impose me as a citizen of the state to give up my religious convictions. I am not an extremist, I am one of the 93.6% of orthodox believers," said Marchel.

"The punishment of the Church means civil war"

If Marchel will be targeted by the Ministry of Justice, he will find enough arguments to defend his choice, because he has not been involved in the election, but he expound himself to keep "the religious treasure".

However, if the parliament will establish a mechanism for prompt and immediate sanctioning of servants of the church for the involvement in politics, Marchel will condemn this personally. "Moreover, I want to say that the sanctioning of the Church means civil war! Because the punishment of the cult, as I understand it, means restricting the spiritual and church service provision or even closing churches ", said the Bishop Marchel.

Orthodox landing crew at the meeting with Igor Dodon 

The elected president, Igor Dodon, held a meeting with ministers of the church on December 14 in the north of the country where he, probably, thanked the priests for supporting the campaign. "Today, in the northern capital of the country, I met with the the bishop of Balti and Falesti district, Marchel and a group of priests of the Diocese.

One of my priorities in the position of the President of the Republic of Moldova will be keeping the Orthodox Christian values, which is the spiritual foundation of statehood and our identity," Dodon wrote on Facebook.

Mentioning about the involvement in the election campaign, the Constitutional Court was referred to the statement of 27 October 2016 of the citizen. Cantarean Nicholas (the Archbishop of Chisinau and All Moldova Vladimir); at the press conference organized by four representatives of the Metropolitan of Chisinau and All Moldova, instigated by the citizen. Mihaescu Nicholas (the Bishop Markel); at the instigation of the monk Nicholas of the Monastery of Japca; at the public display of his opponent in the company of representatives of the Moldovan Orthodox Church or in the premises of places of worship.

The Recommendation of the Constitutional Court

The Constitutional Court has referred in particular to the article 15 par. (2) of Law no. 125 of 11 May 2007 on freedom of conscience, thought and religion:

"The religious cults and their components will refrain from publicly expressing their political preferences or favoring any political party or of any socio-political organizations."

We note that the High Court held that the electoral propaganda, the conduct of actions that violates the Moldovan Constitution, represents grounds for suspending the activity of religious cults and their component parts (Article 24 of the Law on Freedom of Conscience). The Court noted that the activity of religious cults and their component parts may be suspended by the courts, for a period of up to one year. In the case of religious cults or their component parts carries serious actions, their work may be terminated by judicial process. The Ministry of Justice has the right to act in court the religious cults or their registered component parts for suspension or termination of service if it has conclusive evidence of the existence of one of the grounds provided by the law.

The Court found that all the authorities responsible for the electoral process and the activity of religious cults have not honored a positive obligation to prevent and sanction of religious involvement in the electoral process. For these reasons, the Court issued an appeal to the Parliament to establish some prompt and immediate sanctioning mechanisms, including in criminal orders, for any attempt of religious involvement in election campaigns.