The Estonian Interior Ministry has reached a provisional agreement with both the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church under the Constantinople Patriarchate and the Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate in Estonia to share the use of existing church property after a nearly decade-long dispute, BNS reported on 29 August.
RFE/RL – 30 August 2002 – Under the agreement, churches and buildings belonging to the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church would be renovated with government funds to the same degree as the church cedes its property rights. The state would then rent the ceded property to the Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate for 50 years “by right of usufruct,” allowing the existing congregations to function.
As a result of property restitution, all Orthodox Church property was returned to the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church, successor to the pre-World War II Orthodox Church in Estonia.
The proposal has won government approval, but no final decision has been made, as the Estonian Council of Churches has its own suggestions for the division of church property. (AB)