Front of Ukraine war passes also through Moldovan churches

Europe’s Orthodox world is in moral turmoil. As Patriarch Kirill of Moscow grows increasingly radical, Orthodox priests and their congregations in Moldova and other states started severing ties with their Russian leadership, Politico and reported, being quoted by IPN.

The dividing line is Russia’s war in Ukraine, which was declared a “holy war” by Patriarch Kirill of Moscow.

IPN informed about the approach of a group of priests from Moldova, dissatisfied even with the supporting of the war by the Primate of the Russian Orthodox Church. In this context, dozens of parishes reportedly passed to the Metropolitan Church of Bessarabia, but “there are ultimately 13 throughout the Republic of Moldova in the last year,” said Archpriest Iulian Rață, a representative of the Metropolitan Church of Chisinau and all Moldova.

Officially, the Moldovan Orthodox Church is still committed to remaining under the Russian patriarchate, though it does condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the Estonian Orthodox Church under the Moscow Patriarchate is also seeking to distance itself from Kirill’s pro-war statements. And earlier this year, the country’s security service deemed the leader of its Orthodox church, Metropolitan Eugene Reshetnikov, a threat to Estonia’s security, resulting in his residency visa not being extended. Given such circumstances, Estonian Minister of the Interior Lauri Läänemets believes the church can no longer continue under Kirill’s leadership, and the state now plans to take legal steps to make that change.

In Estonia’s neighboring country Latvia, for example, the local parliament approved a legislative amendment last year, declaring the Latvian Orthodox Church independent of the authority of churches outside Latvia. However, the fact remains that in the religious realm, such decisions aren’t made by politicians. And as it stands, the Estonian Orthodox Church wants to continue under the Russian Patriarchate despite its pro-war statements. „We are not responsible for the patriarch’s words,” said the Estonian church’s Vicar Bishop Daniel of Tartu. He dismisses the “Holy War” document as irrelevant.

However, as Politico and others said, there’s another option to consider. In 2019, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople granted self-governance to the unified Orthodox Church of Ukraine. And Speaker of Estonia’s Parliament Lauri Hussar sees this as a possible solution for the churches of Estonia — to come under the jurisdiction of the Patriarch of Constantinople. “Ultimately, this issue will be resolved when Ukraine wins this war, prompting local Estonian churches to reconsider their affiliations,” he said.

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