Metropolitan of Estonia distances himself from Patriarch’s homily about forgiveness of sins for soldiers

Tallinn, Estonia, October 13, 2022

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To assure the government and public that the Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate neither incites nor supports war, the head of the EOC issued a statement yesterday distancing himself from the views of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia.

His Eminence Metropolitan Evgeny of Tallinn and All Estonia also reminds of the several calls for peace that have already come from the EOC Synod and hierarchs and of all the humanitarian work undertaken by EOC churches and parishioners to help Ukrainian refugees.

His statement comes in response to a call from the Ministry of the Interior, which has been closely monitoring the Church’s statements and activities, especially since the Patriarch preached in late September that if someone dies fulfilling his military duty, “then he undoubtedly commits an act equivalent to sacrifice. He sacrifices himself for others. And therefore, we believe that this sacrifice washes away all the sins that a person has committed.”

While the authorities have acknowledged that they have found nothing concerning from the EOC, they have also threatened to cancel Met. Evgeny’s residency permit, and have summoned the bishops to meetings with representatives of the Interior Ministry.

Read Met. Evgeny’s full statement:

In a letter addressed to me and the Synod of our Church, dated 10.07.2022, the Vice-Chancellor of the Ministry of Internal Affairs Raivo Küüt invited me (and with a warning about beginning the procedure of depriving me of a temporary residence permit) to make a statement in public media publications by 10.12.2022:

1) to unequivocally and clearly express whether or not I share the point of view of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, expressed by him in a sermon on 09.25.2022, justifying the military activities of the Russian Federation in Ukraine;

2) to reassure both the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Estonian public that the EOC-MP doesn’t carry out any pro-war activities in Estonia that could have been inspired by the sermon of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia, and doesn’t spread any such ideology.

In response to this appeal, I inform you of the following:

1. In its activities, our Church is guided by the Statutes of the EOC-MP and the laws of the Republic of Estonia.

Based on Orthodox doctrine, the Estonian Orthodox Church opposes war; it stands for peace and for the peaceful resolution of any conflicts, which was once again emphasized in the address of the Synod of the Estonian Orthodox Church of October 6 this year.

In this regard, I inform you that I do not share the words of His Holiness Patriarch Kirill, pronounced by him in a sermon on 09.25.2022, about the absolution of all sins to soldiers who die while fulfilling their military duty.

On March 19 of this year, I joined the Statement of the Council of Churches of Estonia condemning the war and calling for the cessation of hostilities. Since then, my position has remained unchanged.

2. In order to assure the government and the public of Estonia that the EOC-MP doesn’t spread in Estonia an ideology calling for war, I must first state the following:

In the address of the Synod of the EOC-MP made in connection with the ongoing war in Ukraine, we conciliarly confirmed to our flock and the people of Estonia that we prayerfully ask the Lord God for a speedy end to this war, as do all the Christian churches of Estonia. In all our churches, petitions and prayers are offered at every Liturgy for the cessation of the war and the speedy restoration of peace in the Ukrainian land.

From the very beginning of the hostilities in Ukraine, I have urged my flock not to succumb to feelings of hostility and hatred, not to get involved in political discussions, especially in the Church environment, but to help refugees who have left homeless and without means of livelihood. Donations in the amount of 10,000 euros collected in our churches were transferred to the account of MTÜ Eesti Pagulasabi. Parishioners of our Church have worked in refugee reception centers, participated in the collection of clothing, food, and essentials, and helped to solve accommodation issues as much as possible. Our priests have provided and continue to provide spiritual support to Ukrainian refugees coming to the churches of the EOC-MP.

There are currently 38 parishes of the EOC-MP operating on the territory of Estonia, uniting most of the Orthodox believers of our country. Since March 2022, almost every one of our parishes has had parishioners from among the Orthodox Ukrainian refugees who arrived in Estonia. And this can only serve as confirmation that no actions are being carried out in our parishes to promote war and incite hatred. Such actions would quickly become known, since the activities of each of the parishes are open and transparent.

Otherwise, I hope for a meaningful exchange of views at the meeting at the Ministry of Internal Affairs, to which I was invited on 10.18.2022.

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Herman10/13/2022 1:43 pm
When the Patriarch said "he sacrifices himself for others. And therefore, we believe that this sacrifice washes away all the sins that a person has committed." then who is he talking about? Who is "we"? The Fathers of the Church never taught this. The Saints do not believe this. The Mystery of Confession washes away sins, not death in battle. Who is "we"? Is the Patriarch preaching a heresy from the pulpit?
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