Europe’s Orthodox world is in moral turmoil

However, authorities are now questioning whether the church in Estonia is acceptable. “The highest spiritual leader of their church has declared a holy war against the West, including Estonia. This amounts to incitement to terrorism — if a similar action were taken by an Islamic cleric, would we tolerate it? Certainly not,” said Estonia’s Minister of Interior Lauri Läänemets.

And he doubts Kirill will retreat from his stance. “On the contrary, they are becoming more aggressive over time, as the Russian people are mobilized behind Putin’s regime’s aggression, which requires justifying the aggression in Ukraine as serving a ‘higher purpose’,” he added.

“This is how an extremist group speaks, but not the leader of the church,” agreed Pavel Borşevschi, another Orthodox priest in Moldova.

Moldova is currently home to almost 1,000 Russian Orthodox churches, with over 90 percent of Moldovans identifying as Orthodox Christians. Indeed, Kirill is still formally the highest spiritual leader of Borşevschi’s St. Dumitru’s church in Chișinău — and yet, “Patriarch Kirill’s name is not mentioned in the church on workdays. People can no longer tolerate the Russian church, which has transformed into a sect,” Borşevschi said.

n Russia, religion has been used as a tool for justifying the war in Ukraine. | Pool photo by Gavriil Grigorov via Sputnik/AFP/Getty Images

Then why, one might ask, is St. Dumitru’s Church still carrying on under Russian religious leadership, along with the entire Metropolis of Moldova?

“We must remain united regardless of everything. This is one of Christ’s teachings,” Borşevschi said. Instead, he hopes the Metropolitan of Moldova will spearhead a merger of the Moldovan Orthodox Church with the Romanian Orthodox Church.

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