Helsinki, October 9, 2020
On October 1, the hierarchs of the Finnish Orthodox Church—Archbishop Leo of Helsinki and All Finland, Metropolitan Arseny of Kuopia and Karelia, and Metropolitan Ilia of Oulu—traveled to Istanbul by invitation of Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople.
During their time there, the bishops held a session of the Episcopal Council of the Finnish Orthodox Church, with the participation of Archbishop Makarios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia on behalf of Patriarch Bartholomew. Among the Council’s decisions was for the Local Council of the Finnish Church, which will meet next month, to propose worthy candidates for the election of a much-needed vicar bishop.
According to a statement from the Finnish hierarchs yesterday, the session was fruitful, helping the hierarchs to recognize mistakes they had made and renew their desire and intentions to work together for the good of the Church in Finland.
In Istanbul, “we were given a unique opportunity to recreate the lost unity of mind between our fellow bishops. We are grateful to Patriarch Bartholomew for the opportunity to open a new page in ouar cooperation,” the Finnish hierarchs write.
The bishops acknowledge that their “work for the good of our Church did not always bear worthy fruit,” and that “it was crucial to learn to understand each other and accept the human in everyone.”
“We acknowledge our mistakes,” the hierarchs write.
Their statement concludes:
Under the guidance of our Patriarch and the protection of the Mother Church, we have begun work that requires unity, dialogue, and trust. This reinforced the sometimes-forgotten understanding that the common good is best achieved by combining joint efforts and skills. We decided to meet more often, talk, discuss Church matters, and resolve our differences together.
Our Church has long been talking about a new culture of work, an essential component of which is respect and cooperation. For our part, we want to take part in these changes.
The hierarchs’ pledge to meet more often reflects an article from the Finnish outlet Soumen Kuvalehti on October 2 that reports that the Finnish hierarchs were summoned to Constantinople to resolve crisis issues, including accusations against Abp. Leo of not summoning Episcopal Councils.
The outlet also reports that there are accusations against the Finnish primate of violating labor laws. The General Church Assembly reportedly proposed reducing the power of bishops so that they could no longer appoint or nominate churchwardens, priests, deacons, or cantors, or decide on their annual leave and dismissal, which should be the responsibility of trade unions.
The Church Council of the Finnish Church is reportedly hoping for Abp. Leo’s resignation after the Council session in Istanbul. The outlet also reports that the other bishops did not agree with the Archbishop’s call for a vicar bishop, which would require $118,120 from a Church with an annual budget of $1,181,185.