TV Interview with Patriarch Bartholomew I
Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I is visiting Estonia from September 4-11. He was interviewed by ETV journalist Indrek Treufeldt.
In the interview, Bartholomew said the Constantinople denomination wants to have good relations with the Russian Orthodox Church, but also that he believes there should be only one Orthodox Church in Estonia.
He discussed the history of how the Estonian Orthodox Church was autonomous from 1923 until it was taken over by the Russian Orthodox Church. Only after the 1990s, when Estonia regained independence, did an autonomous Estonian denomination reemerge. That shift has given rise to disputes, including those over property, between the Moscow and Constantinople patriarchates.
Still, Bartholomew stressed the need for peaceful relations, mutual respect and coexistence with all religious faiths.
It is the third time Bartholomew has visited Estonia, this time coming for a week-long stay that will coincide with the 90th anniversary of the autonomy of the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church.
Arriving on the invitation of the Estonian president, Bartholomew will meet with the country's leaders and visit churches across the country, including on the islands of Kihnu and Saaremaa.
In June, the Moscow Patriarch, who heads the other major Orthodox Christian denomination, also visited Estonia. The two churches have not always been on good terms, but both sides hinted that a meeting could take place between Constantinople and Moscow representatives during Bartholomew's stay.
There are around 175,000 Orthodox Christians in Estonia, only 20,585 of whom belong to the Constantinople denomination. The 2011 population census stirred debate earlier this year when it showed that Lutheranism was for the first time a minority religion in Estonia, with 108,513 followers.