History of EOC



«It is customary to change the boundaries of the Churches as political entities and administrations change», declared Photios the Great, wise among the Patriarchs.
Because the Orthodox Christians residing in Estonia and constituting an honorable segment of the Estonian Nation have sought spiritual protection and the settlement of their ecclesiastical affairs by the Most Holy Church of Constantinople, the historical Mother Church of all the Orthodox people in Eastern and Central Europe, She, as a tender Mother, accepting the free and unanimous request of her children, acknowledged and blessed the autonomy of the Orthodox Church in Estonia under the spiritual supervision of the Ecumenical Patriarchate through the Patriarchal and Synodical Tomos issued by our ever-memorable predecessor, Ecumenical Patriarch Meletios IV, in July, 1923.
However, twenty years later, the violent destruction of the freedom and the independence of the Estonian State occured, at which time the ecclesiastical autonomy of the Orthodox Christians in Estonia was also violently destroyed. Since their lawful Metropolitan Alexander together with many clerics and thousands of lay people fled to Sweden in March 1944, the autonomous Church of Estonia was made subject to the Church of Russia, following the contracted political change of the time, though not according to canonical order.
The Most Holy Apostolic Patriarchal and Ecumenical Throne, being the guardian of canonical exactness, refusing to accept the events caused by uncanonical force and tyranny, has long continued to regard the autonomy of the Estonian Orthodox Church as being in effect and represented canonically by those Orthodox Estonians who fled to live in exile outside the then Soviet Union. In this spirit, the Mother Church of Constantinople in 1978, prompted by ecclesiastical economy, responding with brotherly love to the request of the Church of Russia, due to the circumstances of the times, proclaimed the Tomos of 1923 inoperative through a Patriarchal and Synodical Act. This means that the Tomos could not be enforced within Estonia which at that time comprised part of the Soviet Union ; the Tomos, however, was not regarded as being void, invalid or revoked.
But already, by 1991, Estonia, having become a free and independent state, demands, in accordance to the practice for all Orthodox nations, that the former autonomous status of the Orthodox Church in Estonia be restored through the reactivation of the Patriarchal and Synodical Tomos of 1923, which calls for returning to the fatherland, where she had been abolished, the exiled Autonomous Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church, as it was officially called from 1935 onwards.
Accordingly, the Most Holy Mother Church of Constantinople --empowered by the strength of the Divine and Sacred Canons, numbers 9 and 17 of the holy 4th Ecumenical Synod in Chalcedon which state : «If any bishop or clergyman has a dispute with the Metropolitan of the same province, let him apply either to the Exarch of the diocese, or to the throne of the imperial capital Constantinople, and let it be tried before him» (Canon 9) and «If anyone has been unjustly treated by his own Metropolitan, let him complain to the Exarch of the diocese, or let him have his case tried before the throne of Constantinople, according as he may choose» (Canon 17) ; in addition, the 34th Canon of the Holy Apostles which exhorts the Churches of different nations, and especially those in free and independent States, should be formed into autonomous or autocephalous Churches under their particular Archbishop and bishops -- has accepted the rightful request of the Orthodox Christians in Estonia and of the honorable government of Estonia, which sought the full restoration in Estonia of the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church as it was before 1940, as an autonomous Church under the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Therefore, our Modesty, together with the Most Reverend and Right Honorable Metropolitans, our dearly beloved brothers in the Holy Spirit and concelebrants in Christ -- having deliberated synodically, trustworthily taking care of the governance and the administration of all ecclesiastical matters and having foresight of what is proper, as has been the canonical custom from time immemorial that the Most Holy Ecumenical Throne has the right to adapt and to provide for the constitution and foundation of the Churches, appropriately addressing the needs of the times and the good estate of the entire assembly always striving for the harmonious and advantageous portrayal and governance of the local and the universal -- declare anew that the Patriarchal and Synodical Tomos of 1923 regarding the Orthodox Metropolitanate of Estonia is reactivated in all its articles. We also recognize as the lawful successors of the Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church those who accepted the Tomos and unceasingly preserved her canonical continuation.
At the same time, we state that, having in mind the concerns of His Beatitude our brother Patriarch Alexy of Moscow and all Russia regarding the immigrant Orthodox faithful in Estonia of Russian descent who were established there during the period when Estonia constituted a part of what was then the Soviet Union, we declare our firm desire that their unhindered ecclesiastical life be ensured, consisting of an integral unit of the Estonian Autonomous Church, organized under their own Russian-speaking bishop, in the hope that their canonical and legal situation may be settled in a spirit of love and peace, and in the understanding of the brotherly unity of all Orthodox peoples.
Wherefore, we issue our present Patriarchal and Synodical Act as declaration and assurance and as permanent representation of the matters considered and decided upon ecclesiastically regarding the reactivation of the Patriarchal and Synodical Tomos 1923, drawn up and signed in this Sacred Codex of our Most Holy Great Church of Christ, and a same and exact copy released and sent to the designated Locum Tenens of the Orthodox Autonomous Apostolic Church of Estonia, the Most Reverend Archbishop John of Karelia and all Finland, our beloved brother in the Lord, to be placed in the archives of the Autonomous Church of Estonia.
In the year of our Salvation, 1996, February 20 Epinemesis IV
+ Bartholomew of Constantinople and attests to this :
loachim of Chalcedon co-attests
leronymos of Rodopolis co-attests
Symeon of Pringhiponneson co-attests
Evangelos of Perga co-attests
Kallinikos of Lystra co-attests
Konstantinos of Derkon co-attests
Athanassios of Heliopolis and Theira co-attest
Germanos of Tranoupolis co-attest
Meliton of Philadelphia co-attest

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