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23 Apr, 2024 11:53

EU state threatens to close Christian monasteries over Moscow ties

Estonian Interior Minister Lauri Laanemets had previously also suggested labeling the Russian Orthodox Church a terrorist organization
EU state threatens to close Christian monasteries over Moscow ties

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. 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 organizations 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. 

Earlier this month, the minister had also revealed that he is preparing a proposition to the Estonian parliament to officially label the ROC a terrorist organization with the goal of banning all of its activities in the country. 

The Estonian Orthodox Church (EOC), however, has stated that it does not intend to unilaterally cut its canonical ties with the Moscow Patriarchy, explaining that the ROC “has not accepted anything at the church level” that would force such a move.  

Estonia’s push to ban the ROC comes after a statement released by the World Russian People’s Council – a public organization headed by Patriarch Kirill – in which it is claimed that Russia should become a global “protector” against evil and challenge attempts to establish “universal hegemony in the world” and also restore the unity of the Russian people who are scattered throughout the world.