Estonian parlt unable to finish handling statement concerning Moscow Patriarchate

  • 2024-05-02
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - The Estonian parliament was unable to conclude the handling of a statement concerning the Moscow Patriarchate on Thursday, because the working time simply ran out.

The statement titled "Declaring the Moscow Patriarchate an institution supporting the military aggression of the Russian Federation", which was submitted by 52 MPs, condemns the activities of the Moscow Patriarchate in justifying and supporting Russia's aggression against Ukraine and declares the Moscow Patriarchate an institution supporting the military aggression of the Russian Federation. In the statement, the Riigikogu also calls on all countries and the international community to stop the hostile influence activities of the Moscow Patriarchate.

It is stressed that declaring the Moscow Patriarchate as an organization supporting war and Russian aggression pertains to the Patriarchate as a religious institution and leadership body, not to individuals who follow Orthodox traditions.

"Orthodox associations and congregations should also assess the risks of such influence activities to public order and their members and take the necessary steps to sever ties with the Moscow Patriarchate. The constitutional right to freedom of religion must be preserved in the Republic of Estonia, taking into account the rights and freedoms of all people living here," it is said in the statement.

Archbishop Urmas Viilma, the head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Estonia, on Thursday sent a letter to the board of the Riigikogu, asking to postpone the first reading of a statement to declare the Moscow Patriarchate an institution supporting the military aggression of the Russian Federation.

"My request is related to the serious concern that the handling of this statement on the Holy Thursday of the Holy Week for both Orthodox Churches in Estonia -- the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church and the Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate -- may seriously offend the religious feelings of Estonia's Orthodox Christians, as well as other Christians," Viilma wrote on social media.

"Even if this statement, according to those who submitted it, does not apply to Estonian Orthodox believers personally, but is aimed at the Moscow Patriarchate as an institution that supports the military aggression of the Russian Federation, a large part of Orthodox believers cannot understand it in the same way in a situation where the first reading of the statement is timed to coincide with the most sensitive moment of the church year," Viilma said.

Interior Minister Lauri Laanemets said that the statement does not concern religious issues

According to the minister, Estonia has definitely not deliberately timed the handling of the statement to coincide with the Orthodox holiday.

"It's not connected with the holiday. Estonia did not choose the moment when Patriarch Kirill of Moscow made his statements, and this process was set in motion then to happen as quickly as possible," he said. 

The minister stressed that the statement to be handled by parliament is not related to religion.

"On the contrary, the statement says that freedom of religion is very important and Estonia defends it. The statement speaks about aggression, support for aggression and support for the Kremlin," he added.