Discovering the Orthodox church

Thursday, January 20, 2022 (22:40)

Yesterday I stumbled into an article about a joint letter by Mario Cardinal Grech and Kurt Cardinal Koch (Lettre conjointe des Cardinaux Koch et Grech aux évêques responsables de l’œcuménisme) where they express their hope that “an ecumenical dimension of the synodal process will foster both synodality and unity of Christians ‘so that the world may believe’ (John 17:21)”

Yes, it’s a shame: I know too little about the Orthodox church! But I am working on it. Already last Friday I spoke with a member of one of the Apostolic Orthodox communities in Tallinn. I learned e.g. about the Holy Fire. He explained me that while the smoke comes only when an Orthodox priest is present, it fails to work when there is only an Orthodox priest. Which for him is a symbolic confirmation of the idea that we must unite.

And we developed the idea that I would go to visit them. My plan is to do this very gently and incognito, as a personal initiative and without involving the sinoditiim. He advised me to speak with a man named Mattias Palli.

Now I watched a video where Mattias Palli speaks (in Estonian) about the name “Maarjamaa”:

Interesting. I learned about the traditional orthodox veneration of holy icons that are reported to have triggered a miracle. For example one of them has prevented a fire. Interesting.

I also learned that there is an understandable historical reason for the well-maintained and widely accepted theory that Christianity has come to the Estonian people by force. Palli mentions that the name “Maarjamaa” was given to Livonia by the Pope during the crusades, a process in which the Orthodox churches didn’t participate. That’s why the Orthodox people in Estonia have historically been against this name, which had come as part of “the forced baptizing campaign” (vägivaldne ristiusustamine) of the Eastern church. Whereby they emphasize that the 19th century mass conversion to the orthodox church was by free will of the converted.

Which reminds me the joke “Judge: Why did you hit this man? Defendant: They forced me to do so. Judge: How did they force you? Defendant: They offered me money.”

AFAICS Pope John Paul II apologized for the Sack of Constantinople in April 1204 also known as the “Fourth crusade” (,, but not for the Northern Crusades.

TODO: Finish reading