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The Ecumenical Patriarch visits the Archdiocese of Finland

On Monday afternoon, September 11, 2023, His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew visited the main office of the Archdiocese of Finland, where he was cordially received by His Eminence Archbishop Leo of Helsinki and All Finland, accompanied by the Bishops Arsenios of Kuopio and Karelia, Elias of Oulu, and Bishop Sergius of Hamina, together with the Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, Protopresbyter Michael Sundkvist, and officials of the Archdiocese.

After the Ecumenical Patriarch venerated the Archdiocesan Chapel of Saints James and Catherine, he presided over the session of the Synod of Bishops of the Church of Finland, which was also attended by the Bishops accompanying the Ecumenical Patriarch, Metropolitan Athenagoras of Kydonia, Metropolitan Vissarion of Spain and Portugal and Metropolitan Gregory of Peristeri.

The Ecumenical Patriarch responded to the heartfelt address of Archbishop Leo, who referred to the history of the Orthodox Church of Finland and its contribution today to the modern society of this country, underlining the indissoluble ties of the Church of Finland with its Mother Church of Constantinople, from which it received the status of autonomy a hundred years ago.

On the morning of the same day, the Ecumenical Patriarch attended a breakfast with the leaders and representatives of the religious communities of Finland, to whom he gave an extensive speech on the initiatives of the Mother Church for the promotion of inter-Christian and inter-religious dialogue (read the speech here). At the beginning of his speech, on the occasion of the 22nd anniversary of the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York, the Patriarch called on those present to observe a minute’s silence in memory of the victims.

Later, the Patriarch visited the Finnish Environmental Centre in Haltia, where he spoke at the ecological seminar “Planet for Youth” organised by the Archdiocese of Finland to inform the country’s Orthodox clergy and youth. The Ecumenical Patriarch was addressed by Archbishop Leo, followed by speeches by Veikko Feodoroff, representative of the Skolt Sámi ethnic minority, Professor Eeva Furman, Secretary General of the Finnish Government’s National Committee for Sustainable Development, and Archimandrite Michael, Abbot of the Valamo Monastery.

In his speech, the Patriarch referred to the efforts of the Ecumenical Patriarchate to raise awareness of the need to protect the natural environment and God’s creation as a whole (read the speech here).

Afterwards, on the banks of a nearby lake, the Blessing of the Waters was performed, and later the Ecumenical Patriarch had the opportunity to walk the trails of the national park and learn about the wild flora and fauna of the area.

On Monday evening, accompanied by Archbishop Leo of Helsinki and All Finland, the Patriarch attended a dinner hosted by the Orthodox Community of Helsinki.

More Photos: Nikos Papachristou / Ecumenical Patriarchate