Estonia threatens to shut down Christian monasteries due to Moscow relations

(MENAFN) In a move sparking controversy and raising questions about religious freedom and security, Estonia's Interior Minister, Lauri Laanemets, has issued a warning that Orthodox Christian monasteries in the country could face closure if they maintain ties with the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC). Laanemets voiced concerns to the news outlet ERR, highlighting the perceived security risks posed by such affiliations.

Specifically, Laanemets visited the Pukhtitsa monastery to convey the government's stance that religious institutions subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchy, and by extension, the Kremlin regime, must sever these ties. He emphasized the imperative of addressing what he termed "related security issues" associated with allegiance to the Russian Patriarch Kirill, whom Laanemets accuses of undermining Estonian sovereignty.

While affirming Estonia's commitment to preventing escalation in the matter, Laanemets underscored the security imperative driving the government's stance. He stressed the incongruity of Estonian religious entities obeying a leader who, according to Laanemets, has openly challenged the legitimacy of the Estonian state.

However, Laanemets also emphasized the government's respect for the autonomy of religious organizations, stating that decisions regarding their future should be made independently.

Nevertheless, he cautioned that failure to comply with the directive to sever ties with the Moscow Patriarchy could result in legal measures compelling cessation of activities.

Despite the warning, Laanemets indicated that the Pukhtitsa monastery would be permitted to continue operating as its leadership seeks viable solutions to sever ties with the Russian Orthodox Church. This allowance reflects a temporary reprieve as the monastery navigates the complex legal and canonical considerations involved.

The situation in Estonia underscores broader tensions between religious affiliations and national security concerns, raising debates about the balance between religious autonomy and state interests. As the government takes steps to address perceived security threats, the fate of Orthodox monasteries with ties to Russia remains uncertain, amidst ongoing efforts to navigate this delicate intersection of religion and politics.



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