Via Integra

Fr Mark's progressive Anglo-Catholic take on European Christianity

  • This is my collection of material about the current state of the churches in Europe. I am interested in looking at how they are dealing with the pressing issues of our time: the issues of gay people and women in ministry/ leadership are particularly pressing at the moment, as is the area of declining church attendance.

    I would like to see how Europe's traditional religious institutions are coping with the new Europe currently being forged, in which public opinion and ethical attitudes are becoming inceasingly pan-European, and are evidently presenting a series of strong challenges for the churches.

Finland – the gay issue

Posted by Fr Mark on August 12, 2009

imagesHomosexuality issue Complicating Relationships Between the Orthodox in Russia and Finland

From Rainbow Christians, 03.01.09:
According to Russian sources, the visibly positive attitude towards homosexuality in the Finnish Orthodox circles might expedite the Patriarchate of Moscow to take the decision to establish a Russian diocese in Finland.

Russian portals ”religio” and ”portal-credo” have especially drawn attention to the statements of father Heikki Huttunen, the General Secretary of the Ecumenical Council of Finland and an orthodox priest. Huttunen is one of the Orthodox activists of Yhteys-liike (’connection’, ‘bond of unity’), a movement fighting against discrimination of homosexuals in Finnish society and churches and promoting the right of the employees of the churches for civil partnerships.
”Patriarchia”, the official internet portal of the Patriarchate of Moscow released a piece of news in July 2006, telling that neither the head of the Orthodox church in Finland, Archbishop Leo, is not ready to judge homosexuality like the Russian Orthodox church does.

In addition to this, the Patriarchate of Moscow mentioned by name those Finnish Orthodox priests who are involved in the activities of Yhteys-liike.

The attitude towards homosexuality in the Patriarchate of Moscow is absolute. The Holy Synod of Moscow cut off their relationships with the Lutheran Church of Sweden in December 2005, as the Swedish Church had decided to start giving blessing to same-sex unions.

Attitude towards homosexuals dispersing the Orthodox in Finland

Three Orthodox theologians are demanding Archbishop Leo to prohibit Orthodox priests from being involved in the activities of Yhteys-liike.
According to the letter of these theologians to Archbishop, the gay-sympathies of the priests are making members of the Orthodox Church in Finland consider moving to other ecclesiastic institutions.

The letter written by Hannu Pöyhönen, lecturer at Valamo Lay Academy, Markus Paavola and Heikki Alex Saulamo also threatens that if the leaders of the church do not demand that the priests dissociate immediately from the aims of Yhteys-liike, ”the conscience of the writers demands them to act in another way in this issue”.

Pöyhönen, Paavola and Saulamo are confirming that homosexuality is a question of church politics. According to them ”it is yet more justified to spread other Orthodox jurisdictions into Finland, if our local church does not hold to the Orthodox teaching”.

Looking forward to sexual-political statement

The question of the attitudes of the Orthodox people towards homosexuals was raised in January 2007 when the Orthodox magazine Aamun Koitto interviewed father Heikki Huttunen and father Timo Lehmuskoski.
In the interview Huttunen and Lehmuskoski encouraged the Orthodox people into open discussion about homosexuality, and to reconsider old interpretations about homosexuality, based on the fear of aberrance and anomaly.

Meanwhile Pöyhönen, Paavola and Saulamo are demanding the Orthodox council of bishops to make strictly condemning statement on homosexuality. They consider the statement of the council of bishops, made 8 years ago, to be inadequate. In that statement, given to the Finnish Parliament on behalf of the Orthodox church, the bishops give their support to the traditional family-institution but they do not condemn homosexuality.

© Jyrki Härkönen, March 2007 (The article of Jyrki Härkönen translated by Ortodoksinen Sateenkaariseura, 20.3.2007)


The Question About Homosexuals is Complicating Relationships Between the Orthodox in Russia and Finland
Attitudes towards homosexuals is becoming the key issue of Orthodox church politics. The Russian media has presented the gay-liberal outlining of Finnish orthodox priests, which is strictly condemned by the Patriarchate of Moscow.

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