Synod: Orthodox Church cannot keep making politcal statements

Aleksander Nevsky Cathedral in Tallinn
Aleksander Nevsky Cathedral in Tallinn Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The Synod of the Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (MPEÕK), said, in a statement on Thursday, that the church condemns Russia's war in Ukraine. However, the synod also expressed its bewilderment at what it describes as "constant demands for political statements" to be made by the church.

In the statement, the Synod of the Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (MPEÕK) highlighted that it had supported an earlier decision by the Estonian Council of Churches to condemn Russia's military action in Ukraine.

"There are accusations against our Estonian Orthodox Church, that suggest our Church is calling for the continuation of conflict and violence, when in fact, there has been nothing of the kind throughout the entire war and there never will be. Our Church is against all wars, it stands for peace and the peaceful resolution of all conflicts," the synod wrote.

"The Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate supported the decision on March 19 by the Estonian Council of Churches condemning Russia's military actions in Ukraine. At the same time, however, there have been constant calls for the church to make political assessments and political statements about the ongoing events. But, if the Church is drawn into these disputes and starts angrily condemning the events that are taking place, like the politicians, where can one find peace for their anxious soul?" the statement said.

The synod called on those who take political decisions, or are covering the conflict in the media, to exercise restraint and reason with their words. "We see how easy it is to destroy the peace and how difficult it is to restore it later. Let us look for peace in our hearts, in our families, and in our societies," said the synod.

The synod also pointed out that if war is ended by military force alone, and the feelings of mutual hatred cannot be overcome, we can never be sure that conflict will not break out once again.

The synod called on its parishioners to pray for Ukraine, but also for the Orthodox Church in Estonia. "We call on you to pray also for our church, that we may continue our service of peace without hindrance."

The Estonian authorities want the head of the Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate, Metropolitan Eugene, to publicly comment on the recent words of Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and all Russia justifying Russia's aggression in Ukraine.

On September 25, Patriarch Kirill said, that Russian soldiers Russian soldiers fighting Ukraine are answering their calling and fulfilling their duty to the homeland and society. After equating their actions amount to a sacrifice and demonstration of faithfulness to sacred vows, he then said that Russian soldiers who die fighting in Ukraine would be absolved of all their sins.

Interior Minister Lauri Läänemets had previously said, that, while there is no suggestion that Metropolitan Eugene supports Russia's war on Ukraine, if that were the case, Estonia would be able to revoke his residency permit.  


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Editor: Michael Cole

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