15 June 2013
Topic of the day
Patriarch Kirill visits Estonia
Tallinn, June 15, Interfax - Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia began a three-day visit to Estonia on Friday.
"As a child and an adolescent I repeatedly came to this country on pilgrimage to the Puhtitsa Convent. I know Estonia well, my parents stayed in a dacha here in those days, so it's a very close country to me - its people, customs, culture," the patriarch told reporters at the Tallinn Airport.
He said the reason for his visit was the 20th anniversary of the autonomy of the Estonian Orthodox Church granted to it by Patriarch Alexy II, a former primate of the Russian Church. "It was a major, very important event, which laid the basis for the further strengthening of Orthodoxy in Estonia," Patriarch Kirill said.
Religion was and remains "quite an important factor, including in the development of relations between countries and peoples," he said.
Patriarch Kirill said the autonomous Estonian Orthodox Church, which remains under the jurisdiction of the Moscow Patriarchate, is developing despite "rudiments of the nineties."
"We very much hope that all these rudimentary problems will be resolved because the Estonian Orthodox Church is a church of Orthodox people who live in Estonia. It is not a representative of a foreign state, least of all is it an agent of a foreign state that works for it, - it is a local Orthodox community," he said.
The patriarch's schedule for Friday included leading a brief worship service at the Cathedral of St. Alexander Nevsky in Tallinn and laying wreaths at the Sorrow Monument, a statue showing Linda, the heroine of an Estonian epic.
Friday is the 72nd anniversary of the start of the Stalin regime's deportation of more than 10,000 people from Estonia to Siberia.
The deportees included about 3,000 Russian speakers - practically all members were Orthodox, White Guard emigre, monarchist, student and educational associations, and practically all prominent Russian-speaking entrepreneurs with their families. Most of them were executed or died of starvation, illness or unbearable living conditions.
Patriarch Kirill still has more plans for Friday.
They include laying a wreath at the Bronze Soldier, a monument to Soviet troops killed while driving Nazi forces out of Tallinn during World War II, at a military cemetery, meet with World War II veterans and young people.
Other events on Friday's program are meetings with parliament speaker Ene Ergma, Prime Minister Andrus Ansip, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet and Tallinn Mayor Edgar Savisaar.
The Moscow-run Estonian Orthodox Church consists of 31 parishes. Its 60-member clergy comprises the metropolitan, one bishop, 45 priests and 13 deacons.
Photo by the press service of Patriarch Kirill