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Interview: "Patriarch Kirill has a long relationship with Finland"

Interview with Archbishop Leo published in the magazine Kryrkpressen in February 2009

How well do you know the new Patriarch of Moscow, Kirill, and in what connections?

“I have known Kirill for about 40 years. As students we were both active in the world Orthodox youth organization Syndesmos. I remember very well the time when the theological academies of the Russian Orthodox Church were first allowed to take part in international Orthodox activities.”

“I should perhaps add that that collaboration would perhaps never have come about without our combined efforts together with Kirill Gundyayev, who was at that time a student of theology in St. Petersburg. We have both been bishops since the late 1970s and have met regularly several times a year.”

Will Kirill’s appointment as Patriarch affect relations between the Finnish and Russian Orthodox churches in any way, and if so, how?

“I had a personal audience with Patriarch Kirill in Moscow on 3rd February 2009. The Patriarch emphasized on that occasion that he had had a long and intimate relationship with Finland. He had visited this country regularly, some 30 times in all, and he was also mindful of the significant role played by the Finns in international co-operation between the Orthodox churches. He also stressed our church’s geopolitical position as a small but dynamic local church situated between the East and the West.”

“I believe that new opportunities for relations between the Finnish and Russian Orthodox churches will open up with the accession of Patriarch Kirill.”

© Suomen ortodoksisen arkkipiispan kanslia, Liisankatu 29 A 8, 00170 Helsinki, puh. 020 6100 240, helsingin.hiippakunta@ort.fi