President Kaljulaid meets with Archbishop Viilma, head of Estonian Lutheran church (7)
The issue of the president's church attendance did not come up at Thursday's meeting between President Kersti Kaljulaid and Archbishop Urmas Viilma, head of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church (EELK), a spokesman for the church told BNS on Friday.
"They did not discuss it, but the archbishop explained why they did not," EELK spokesman Kalle Kõiv said. According to the spokesman, there was no reason to bring up this subject as it has never been taken for granted that the Estonian head of state would attend the televised service at Christmas. Kõiv also noted that former President Toomas Hendrik Ilves used to attend Christmas service at his home church in Viljandi County in recent years, if at all.
The purpose of the archbishop's welcoming visit was to get acquainted with the president and provide her with an overview of church life in Estonia, ecumenical cooperation as well as the EELK's contributions to Estonian society, noted the spokesman.
Kaljulaid showed herself to be well informed about the church's social work and recognized congregations' and religious organizations' welfare work in particular. The president thanked the church for dealing with homeless children's problems as well as accepting refugees arriving in Estonia, Kõiv said.
Kaljulaid and Viilma agreed that there were ways for the state and the church to work together which should be discussed at subsequent meetings, he added.
According to Viilma, his first meeting with the Estonian president was very nice and positive. He did not get the impression that the head of state was unwilling to cooperate with the church or any other social group.
"I'm very happy that President Kaljulaid does not view the church as only having a ceremonial role but is aware of its day-to-day contribution to social and welfare work as well," he said.
The new president's relations with the EELK became strained after it was reported that following her election in October, she had turned down the offer for the church to arrange a service of thanks on the day of her inauguration. Kaljulaid later explained that it would have been insincere fo her to attend the church service as the church had never previously figured in her celebration of national or religious holidays.