Representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchy of Constantinople and of the Russian Orthodox Church’s Moscow Patriarchy have reached a tentative agreement on the canonical subordination of Estonia’s Orthodox congregations. Following several days of talks in Tallinn, the two delegations and clerics from Estonia agreed that there will be two Orthodox Churches in that country and approved the lists of congregations to be subordinated to either Patriarchy, in accordance with decisions announced by the congregations themselves in recent months. In most cases, ethnic Estonian believers opted for Constantinople’s jurisdiction and ethnic Russians for Moscow’s. (BNS, Interfax, August 23)
Such a pact may defuse a dispute with strong political overtones, triggered last year by the refusal of the Moscow Patriarchy to relinquish its jurisdiction over all of Estonia’s Orthodox — a legacy of Soviet rule during which the country’s national Orthodox church was unable to function. The latter, however, regained its pre-occupation legal status and opted for canonical links with Constantinople, which consented to take it under its wing. The Moscow Patriarchy retaliated by breaking relations with Constantinople. The tentative agreement just reached seems to point the way toward a resolution of the dispute among the two centers of world Orthodoxy as well as in Estonia itself.
Russia Defends Soviet Demographic Policy.