Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 42

. Capping a slow-motion process which began after the restoration of Estonian independence, Estonian orthodox believers have regained church autonomy and the old canonical ties to the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople, shaking off the Moscow Patriarchate’s jurisdiction. Constantinople delegates arrived in Tallinn last week to officially notify the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church about Patriarch Bartolomeos’ consent to renew canonical ties and the autonomous status of the reactivated EAOC in Estonia, restoring the situation which existed prior to the Soviet occupation of the country. The decision enables EAOC to elect its own leadership in Estonia and avoid subordination to the Moscow church.

Patriarch Aleksy II of Moscow and all Russia, and the Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church, immediately denounced Constantinople’s support for Estonian "nationalist dissenters" within Orthodoxy and "violations of elementary human rights of Russian believers" in Estonia. On February 23 the Moscow Patriarchate announced the suspension of relations with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, blaming Bartolomeos for the resulting split in world Orthodoxy; and Aleksy omitted Bartolomeos’ name from prayers in Moscow’s Epiphany Cathedral. On the same day Aleksy met with Russian president Boris Yeltsin to solicit Russian state support in the matter. (11)

EAOC was the ecclesiastical organization of Estonia’s Orthodox irrespective of ethnicity in inter-war Estonia. It continued an uninterrupted existence abroad during the Soviet occupation of Estonia, when the Moscow Patriarchate imposed its jurisdiction over the Orthodox church in the country. The restored Estonian state has re-registered EAOC, rather than the Moscow affiliate, as the legitimate successor to the inter-war church.

Yeltsin, Lukashenko Discuss Reintegration.