Tallin, September 30, 2016
Metropolitan Stephanos of the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church of the Patriarchate of Constantinople has suggested that the Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate unite with his Church under his authority.
Metropolitan Stephanos told the Postimees newspaper that he bases himself on the decisions of the Pan-Orthodox Council that was held in June this year in Crete according to which the existence of two Orthodox Churches in the same state is unacceptable, reports Interfax.
According to the hierarch, he has a plan for uniting the Churches: “Yes, I am prepared. I have a plan which would equally respect both communities and both languages. It is a very human plan – the Russian culture and language cannot be cut off.”
The metropolitan has acknowledged that Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia should discuss the question of the Churches’ union with each other.
Presently there are two active Orthodox jurisdictions in Estonia: the Estonian Orthodox Church (EOC) of the Moscow Patriarchate and the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church (EAOC) of the Patriarchate of Constantinople (the latter was established early in the 1990s). Both Churches themselves claim to be autonomous though they do not recognize the autonomous status of each other.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union the EAOC obtained nearly all Church properties that had been confiscated during the Soviet era. Meanwhile, the EOC-MP has to rent those churches belonging to the state at which it has held services for many years.
Today the Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate has thirty-one parishes, divided into the two dioceses of Tallin and Narva. The latter mainly includes predominantly Russian-language districts in the east of the country. In 1992, before the schism, the Estonian Church had eighty parishes. The head of the EOC-MP is ninety-two-year-old Metropolitan Cornelius (Jakobs) who serves at the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Tallin.
The Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church has sixty parishes divided into the three dioceses of of Tallin, Pärnu, and Tartu. Its primate is Metropolitan Stephanos (Charalambides) who usually serves at St. Simeon’s Church.