(29 October 2000)

Your Excellency, Ambassador of the Republic of Greece,
Your Eminence Stephanos, Metropolitan of Tallinn and All Estonia, dear brother in Christ,
Your Eminence John, Archbishop of Karelia and All Finland, dear brother and concelebrant in Christ.
Reverend priests,
Your Excellencies, leaders and members of the diplomatic corps in Estonia,
Venerable guests,
The initiative to call us around this table full of experiences and food, which is both a spiritual and material banquet, comes from the noble heart of the ambassador of Greece in Estonia. This imitates the ancient symposia of Plato and the early Christian "agape". We can here enjoy the deep and human joy of personal fellowship. We thank you, Your Excellency, from the depth of our heart for the company and this excellent banquet, which is spiced by the rich and exalting experience of your delicate heart, which fills the hall and touches the sensitive strings of our souls, so that they answer you with a harmonious echo in sincere gratitude and fervent prayer.
We came from afar into this Northern country, from our glorious residence in Phanar, to support spiritually the Estonian Orthodox Church, which has risen after its times of trials and being small in the numbers of members, is big in the number of martyrs. This Church was recognized as autonomous by the then Patriarch of Moscow Tychon in 1920. But in July 1923, the Church, represented by Metropolitan Alexander and his delegation, asked to be granted autonomy by the authoritative Ecumenical Patriarchate according to the order. The Ecumenical Patriarchate proclaimed the autonomy of the EOC by the patriarchal and synodal tomos of July 1923. In the conditions of autonomy recognized by all Orthodox Churches, this Church functioned until 1940s, when its autonomy was ended by force and the Church was united uncanonically to the Moscow Patriarchate. This was not recognized pan-orthodoxly. In the situation of that time, the Ecumenical Patriarchate wished that the Estonian Orthodox should not remain without an archpastor and as it was impossible to lead the Church autonomically, the Patriarchate temporarily arrested the operation of the tomos of autonomy. Lately, it became possible anew to restore the administrative autonomy of the EOC and the Ecumenical Patriarchate reenacted the tomos according to the needs of organizing and leading of the EOC, to enable its autonomy to be restored. At the same time, a brotherly agreement was reached with the Moscow Patriarchate, so that the existing parishes could freely choose whether they want to be under the jurisdiction of the autonomous Church in Estonia or the Moscow Patriarchate. This has come true in practice.
The further registration and recognition of these two groups of parishes by the venerable Estonian Government and the restoring of the nationalized property of the EOC are matters that belong to the purely administrative sphere and the Ecumenical Patriarchate has not interfered in the regulating of these matters.
These facts had to be stated objectively and clearly, because many inaccurate rumors are heard and confusion is created. Also, the ancient symposia and "agape" of the Christians did not occur in silence, but it was a tune to discuss serious problems.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate took the initiative of restoring the autonomy of the EOC, hearing the petition of the people involved and fulfilling its panorthodoxly recognized service. The same happened, for example, in the case of the Albanian Orthodox Church, which was in a like situation of organizational chaos and in other analogous cases.
Now we have the pleasant moment to greet the reorganizing of the EOC and the swift beginning of its autonomous course, which is greatly profited by His Eminence, Metropolitan Stephanos of Tallinn and All Estonia, who, sent on this mission, gave up an easier position in the Church in France. He has used all his gifts and experiences from Cyprus, Africa, Greece, France and elsewhere for the new Episcopal service in Estonia. He has written a lot and his books are translated into various languages. He himself knows many languages, he knows the work in the Church, he is humble and kind, full of virtue and love towards everybody, he has ecumenical experience, he knows all the world and he is not unfamiliar with the modern problems even in technical matters, he serves successfully the autonomous EOC and loves all Estonian Orthodox and all Estonians not regarding their confessions.
Let us raise the glasses to drink for his health and divine help, so that his work can be successful for the benefit of all Estonians.
After that, let us wish the same to His Excellency, the host at the banquet who gave us so kindly and lavishly the possibility to be together in one spirit on this most beautiful feast and to all the guests.
Be strong and healthy everyone, dear friends, by the grace of the beneficent God.

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