Tallinn, Estonia, October 3, 2018
The Holy Synod of the Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate has published a statement on its official website expressing “its deep concern over the dangerous development of the Church situation in Ukraine caused by the unilateral actions of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.”
The bishops also express their full support for the Russian Church’s decision to cease commemoration of the Ecumenical Patriarch and concelebration with hierarchs of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The Holy Synods of the Belarusian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate and of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia have also released statements against Constantinople’s interference in Ukraine and in support of the Russian Synod’s decision.
The Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada, and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, all of which are jurisdictions of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, support Constantinople’s unilateral actions. However, no Church body outside of the Ecumenical Patriarchate has expressed any support for its actions.
The Estonian Church’s pain of heart over the ongoing situation in Ukraine comes from its own experience with the expansionist tendencies of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, an Estonian Church in Exile managed to legally register itself as the continuation of the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church, despite the Moscow Patriarchate’s already-present operations within the country. The Estonian government thus gave this Church the use of all pre-1940 Orthodox church properties in Estonia, although they were already parishes of the Moscow Patriarchate.
Then, in 1996, the Patriarchate of Constantinople stepped in to make the Estonian Church an autonomous body within its jurisdiction. His Holiness Patriarch Alexei II of Moscow, a native son of Estonia, severed relations with Constantinople over its interference, and the Russian Church broke communion with Constantinople.
However, relations were restored three months later when, in the spirit of forgiveness and brotherly love, the Russian Church agreed to a situation where both the Russian and Constantinople Churches would operate in parallel, and parishes and clergy could choose which jurisdiction to follow.
Although the Constantinople Church has 54 parishes today, many received by legal maneuvering, compared to the Russian Church’s 30, it has only 20,000 parishioners, compared to the Russian Church’s 150,000 faithful. The Russian Church also has Pukhtitsa Monastery within its jurisdiction.
The statement reads in full:
The Synod of the Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate expresses its deep concern over the dangerous development of the Church situation in Ukraine caused by the unilateral actions of the Patriarchate of Constantinople which sent two of its hierarchs to Kiev for the realization of its plans to create an autocephalous Ukrainian Church. We testify from the experience of the Estonian Orthodox Church that such actions by the Patriarchate of Constantinople, undertaken by it without any coordination with the canonical hierarchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, may entail serious consequences both for Orthodoxy in Ukraine and for the unity of the universal Church as a whole.
Representatives of the schismatic communities in Ukraine are already voicing their plans to deprive the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of its official name and to expropriate its property for the use of the new Church structure to be created by Constantinople. If the above-mentioned plans are implemented, it will deal a serious blow to Orthodoxy in Ukraine, and millions of Ukrainian Orthodox faithful will face discrimination and be deprived of their churches and monasteries.
Strongly condemning the anti-canonical acts of the Patriarchate of Constantinople in Ukraine, we fully support the position of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church expressed in its statement from September 14, 2018, and we also express our full support for His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, the episcopate, the clergy, and all the fullness of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church.
We call upon the clergy and all the faithful children of the Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate to offer special prayers for the unity and unanimity of the holy Orthodox Church, and also for a speedy and just resolution to this situation.
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