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Address in Stockholm on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Scandinavian Metropolis

Your All-Holiness, Blessed Eminences, Beloved Fathers, Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

On behalf of the Orthodox Church in Finland, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the Metropolis of Sweden for inviting us to this beautiful and historic city of Stockholm on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the Scandinavian Metropolis of our Great and Holy Mother Church of Constantinople. 

To be in communion with our sacred Ecumenical Throne is of special importance to me and to my local Church. If I may emphasize that there is no better way to understand this communion than through the koinoniaunityof us as a Church and as neighboring bishops gathered in the spirit of love, peace and brotherhood. As characterized once by Your All-Holiness: “The Ecumenical Patriarch always acts in communion, since he must promote communion.”

But what is the significance, if I may ask, that we have gathered today to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Metropolis, which bears the name “Greek-Orthodox Church,” Grekisk-Ortodox Kyrka?

From an Orthodox viewpoint, the epithet “Greek” refers back to a time two thousand years ago, when Christianity spread to Athens, Thessalonica and Corinth, thanks to the work of the Apostles. It was one of the first great cultural encounters. Because of it, our Church adopted for its use the vocabulary of Greek philosophy, which was adapted in the following centuries into the mother-tongue of theological dogma. During the era of the early Church the borders between religions and cultures were like the patterns and colors of an Oriental carpet. The wholeness was more of a path to a world, opened by innumerable subtleties, variations and shades, than a precisely limited entity. This fruitful encounter between Christianity and Hellenism during the early Church is our model for cultural exchange even today.

Modern Swedish society is a good example of the continuation of this encounter with Orthodoxy. At the heart of the Orthodox oikumene even today is its ability to adapt to new circumstances while maintaining the original and authentic parts of its tradition unaltered.

The Orthodox Church of Finland is under the loving protection of the Great Mother Church of Ecumenical Patriarchate and we are doing all we can so that our Church be a home for all Orthodox people. We believe whole-heartedly that a cultural and ethnic diversity is a principal characteristic of our faith – a characteristic we have at one time inherited from the multi-cultural Byzantium.

After all, it is our missionary effort to reach those who seek Christ and the Church, those who doubt, those who have given up on faith, those who suffer, those who are broken and those who live outside of the Church. And as Your All-Holiness accurately stated a week ago in Rome “The Churches’ mission is to serve humankind, not their own turf.” There are so many ways to serve this mission.

Your Eminence, Metropolitan Cleopas! I wish to encourage you to continue your work in building a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural local church. Be assured that you have the support of prayers of the sister Church, the Orthodox Church of Finland, and especially one of your Finnish speaking parishes here in Stockholm that has been under the caring and loving omophorionof your Metropolis since the Metropolis was first established.

Your All-Holiness, dearest Eminences, beloved brothers and sisters in Christ!Greeting and thanking You with these thoughts, I am deeply grateful to be here with you all today. May this blessed encounter strengthen the spiritual ties between us and “Remember among the first, O Lord, our holy Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and grant him to Your holy churches in peace, safety, honor, and health, unto length of days, rightly teaching the word of Your truth.” Eispolla eti despota, hronia polla!

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