EU state threatens closure of orthodox monasteries over ties to Russian church

Alexander Nevsky Cathedral and Toompea Castle

Orthodox Christian monasteries in Estonia could be forced to shut down if they do not sever their ties with the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), the EU state’s interior minister, Lauri Laanemets, has warned, international media reported.

Speaking to the news outlet ERR on Tuesday, he claimed  that such links pose a security risk to the country.  

The minister visited the Pukhtitsa monastery on Tuesday to explain to its leadership the government’s position that all churches, parishes, and monasteries that are subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchy, “and essentially to the Kremlin regime and related security issues” must “take steps to stop this subordination.”  

He insisted that Tallinn will do “everything possible to ensure that there is no escalation in this matter,” but stressed that from “a security logic point of view” it is impossible to allow Estonian religious organisations to obey Russian Patriarch Kirill, who Laanemets claims has “declared that the Estonian state should not exist.”  

At the same time, Laanements claimed that the state is “not going to prescribe to churches and parishes what their future should be, it is important that they make these decisions themselves.”  

However, he warned that if no decisions are made, those who are “directly subordinate to Patriarch Kirill, that is, Moscow, may face a problem” and be legally forced by the state to cease all activities.   

For now, the Pukhtitsa monastery will be allowed to continue its activities as usual, Laanemets said, as its leadership looks for legally and canonically acceptable solutions that would sever its ties with the Moscow Patriarchy. 

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