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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Estonian Orthodox Row Grows

TALLINN, Estonia -- A heated dispute between two wings of the Orthodox Church in Estonia grew more intense Tuesday when the head of one faction banned leading members of the other from services, church officials said.

The row began after most of the 80 Orthodox parishes in the Baltic state said they wanted to come under the jurisdiction of the Constantinople (Istanbul) Eastern Orthodox Church, rather than the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church.

Church officials said the pronunciation of an anathema against nine priests and deacons of the pro-Constantinople wing by Bishop Kornely, who supports Moscow's jurisdiction, meant they were not allowed to attend or officiate at church services.

"The ban was issued ... because of their anti-canonical activites," the bishop said in a statement.

The row also centers on church property, which both sides have claimed but which the courts have awarded to the pro-Constantinople Estonian Apostolic Orthodox Church. A delegation from All Holiness Bartolomeos 1, leader of up to 300 million Orthodox Christians, is currently in Estonia, trying to sort out the church dispute.

Constantinople has already said it will accept Estonian Orthodox believers under its jurisdiction and expects the church to split into two camps.