Minister to decide on Metropolitan Eugene's residence permit next week

Minister of the Interior Lauri Läänemets (SDE).
Minister of the Interior Lauri Läänemets (SDE). Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Minister of the Interior Lauri Läänemets (SDE) said he wasn't satisfied with a recent statement by the Estonian Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate (MPEÕK), and said that if MPEÕK leader Metropolitan Eugene doesn't condemn Patriarch Kirill's statements supporting Russia's war in Ukraine by October 12, he will propose Eugene be stripped of his permanent residence in Estonia.

In a statement released Thursday, the Synod of the MPEÕK said that the church condemns Russia's war in Ukraine and prays for Ukrainians, but likewise expressed bewilderment at what it described as "constant demands for political statements" to be made by the church. The synod likewise highlighted that the church had supported a March decision by the Estonian Council of Churches (EKN) to condemn Russia's hostilities in Ukraine.

"They haven't adopted the positions in it that the Estonian state has wanted," Läänemets told ERR on Friday. "And we haven't seen Metropolitan Eugene himself in Estonia either."

Läänemets wants Eugene to explicitly condemn Patriarch Kirill's recent statement. Namely, Kirill, primate of the Russian Orthodox Church, said last Monday that Russian soldiers fighting against Ukraine are fulfilling both their calling and their duty before their homeland and society, due to which they are committing "an act that is tantamount to a sacrifice" which he stated "washes away all the sins that a person has committed."

"One has to explicitly distance themselves from this," the Estonian minister stressed. "This distancing did not occur in this statement."

He said that the Ministry of the Interior sent the MPEÕK a letter Friday that included two requests.

"We want an unequivocal position from Metropolitan Eugene in Estonia's public media outlets regarding whether the metropolitan shares Patriarch Kirill's position or not," he said. "Secondly, Eugen must convince both the Ministry of the Interior as well as the Estonian public that the impacts of the warmongering or ideology stemming from the Moscow patriarch's statement are not promoted in the MPEÕK.

"We must be absolutely convinced that not one organization, including religious organizations, on the territory of the Republic of Estonia supports the war [in Ukraine] and that they distance themselves from warmongering," Läänemets explained. "If they will not do so, that means the opposing view, and not one organization in Estonia should be of the opposing view. This is directly a security issue."


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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