Estonia: Moscow-Ruled parishes get on official footing

The Interior Ministry has registered 27 parishes of the Estonian Orthodox Church under the Moscow Patriarchy out of a total 32. A majority of the newly-registered parishes are clustered in the Tartu and Ida-Virumaa districts, says Maja Burlaka, ministerial press spokeswoman. Though it complies with the law, On Churches and Parishes, the registration was preceded by a heated nine-month controversy. The official status is only partial, for the time being, as protocol signing on Church property has been suspended. The involved matter has to be regarded on its own. Estonian political activists greet the registration in the hope that it will promote national accord and eventually remove Estonian-Russian tensions. The Estonian Orthodox Church stresses its legal and canonical succession to the one that was active in a short spell of Estonian independence [which ended with the Soviet Union incorporating the republic at the start of World War II--Tr.]. Thus, the current version of the Church Statute makes reference to the Tomos, a 1920 decree which determined the status and activities of Eastern Christian communities in the Protestant-dominated country.