Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Faithful Lutheran Bishop "Defrocked"

By Larry Beane

The institution that claims to be the Church of Finland has has "defrocked" the Rt. Rev. Matti Väisänen, the Lutheran Mission Province bishop of Finland.

This is how you know that he is a "faithful" bishop.

His ministry will, of course, continue unabated. He is, after all, a missionary. He is reaching out to both the apostate "church" as well as the innocent victims of that organization's abuse.

Being "defrocked" by the "Church" of Finland is a little like having one's morals criticized by Larry Flynt. The words of Brer Rabbit come to mind: "Please don't fling me in that briar patch!"

Let us keep Bishop Väisänen, the Mission Province, and all faithful Lutherans (and other Christians) in Finland in our prayers. Our faithful Scandinavian brothers and sisters are among the most courageous Christians on the planet.

HT: Fr. Tapani Simojoki for the link to the English language news report.

16 comments:

  1. For purposes of prayer, how does one pronounce Väisänen. All joking aside, I attended a service once at a mission province church in Sweden, and it was sad for the lack of parishioners (about 15), but a wonderful service and one greatly needed in these largely apostate countries.

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  2. Okay guys--

    Can this "Rogue Bishop" become reaffiliated to another church body? That is: if the Church of Finland deposed him, what if some other org...say, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya for instance... offers him a bishopric to oversee the confessional churches in Finland.

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  3. Dear Friend:

    Actually, that is already what happened. He was previously consecrated as a bishop within the Mission Province by Bp. Obare of Kenya.

    That is ultimately why he was "defrocked." The lowerarchy of the Church (sic) of Finland, like that of the Church (sic) of Sweden, laments the courage and faithfulness of Bishop Obare who has made it once more possible for faithful pastors to be ordained in Scandinavia. Obare and the Mission Province broke through the tyranny for the sake of the Gospel.

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  4. Father:

    If Bp Obare consecrated Bp Väisänen, how the frell can the CoF defrock a Bishop that they did not install in the first place?! To my understanding, it is like having the leadership of the ELCA notifying Bp Stechholz that he's no longer a Lutheran bishop.

    Hopefully, Bp Väisänen realizes the ridiculousness of one church body deposing a leader of *another* church body, and tells them to take a long walk off a short pier.

    This "rogue pastor's wife" salutes the "rogue bishop." If he decides to visit the Fort, my Prediger and I will buy him a beer.

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  5. Early reports that the act was done by the church of England are inaccurate.

    An official statement from Luther Foundation Finland says, "The decision by the Tampere Cathedral Chapter to depose Matti Väisänen from the pastoral office is wrong and contrary to the church’s confession."

    Tampere Cathedral is a Finish Lutheran Cathedral.

    The Luther Foundation of Finland can be found here: http://www.luthersaatio.fi/

    An English translation of the Foundation's statement as well as a link to earlier inaccurate reports can be found here: http://simonpotamos.wordpress.com/

    The Finnish Broadcasting Company's story now begins,"Lutheran minister Matti Väisänen has been stripped of his clerical standing by the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church," can be found here: yle.fi/uutiset/.../rogue_bishop_stripped_of_clerical_standing_1896782.html

    It never hurts to take a breath and check facts. Occasionally it even spares us from anger.

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  6. Dear Mark:

    Church of England? Where was that reported? Wow!

    What part of the story is inaccurate (there was a dead link on your blog)? Fr. Tapani Simojoki has substantiated that the bishop was defrocked by the Church of Finland.

    None of this is a shock. The Church (sic) of Sweden has also "defrocked" C of S pastors who serve under the banner of the Mission Province.

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  7. Tapani Simojoki August 12 at 6:12am Reply
    Pastor Simojoki writes:

    Dear brothers,

    I would be grateful if you could publicise this news item via your blogs and/or other means.

    http://simonpotamos.wordpress.com/2010/08/12/finnish-mission-province-bishop-defrocked/

    I will endeavour to translate some of the relevant documents (found on the Luther Foundation website: www.luthersaatio.fi) as I have time.

    Many thanks!

    In Christ,
    Tapani

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  8. Thanks for flagging this up here.

    A couple of comments and corrections:

    Bishop Matti is an ordained pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland (since 1964). This decision by the Cathedral Chapter of Tampere diocese means that he is deposed from the office of the ministry. In other words, the ELCF no longer considers him a valid pastor and he loses all the rights of the office, both spiritual and civil.

    The reason for this action is his consecration as bishop in the Mission Province of Sweden and Finland. In practice, he has oversight over the pastors and congregations of Luther Foundation Finland, which is an associate member organisation of the Mission Province. The Cathedral Chapter consider him to have acted in breach of his ordination vows by taking on an office in another denomination.

    This is a false charge, since neither the Mission Province nor Luther Foundation are denominations but independent organisations acting and working within the churches of Sweden and Finland. They are neither registered as nor act as separate church bodies, although they do act autonomously. In his legal submission, bishop Matti argued that the very opposite from the charge was the case: that since the ELCF is in a state of apostasy, to take on the role he has is precisely to fulfil his ordination vow, not to oppose it. (This document is being translated and will probably appear on the Luther Foundation website in English in due course.)

    The reference to inaccuracies is originally mine: the www.yle.fi (Finnish Broadcasting Corporation) article is misleading in some respects, although the central facts are correct. It is also heavily biased against bishop Matti and Luther Foundation.

    The ruling takes effect immediately, although the bishop can appeal to secular courts. The legal (let alone theological) basis of the ruling is very weak, but judging by events in the last couple of decades, it is very likely that the secular courts will uphold it.

    Finally, a minor correction: Bishop Matti was consecrated by Mission Province bishop (now retired) Arne Olsson, not Walter Obare. Obare assisted, together with the other Mission Province bishops, but did not officiate.

    I will update things on my blog as things develop. In the meantime, please pray for bishop Matti, for Luther Foundation, and for the Lutheran church in Finland at this critical time.

    Pastor Tapani Simojoki
    Fareham, United Kingdom

    P.S. Pronunciation guide: Finnish is pronounced phonetically. Every letter in the word is pronounced separately (except double consonants, which are elongated, like in Italian), and the accent always falls on the first syllable. The letter 'a' is pronounced as the 'u' in "duh". The letter ä is pronounced like the 'a' in "fat" with an English accent. Sorry, honourable citizens of Tennessee! So you end up with: Muht-ti Va-ee-sa-nen. More or less. God will know what you mean, and your congregation won't know any better anyway. :-)

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  9. One more thing: please disseminate this information as widely as you can!

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  10. Dear Tapani:

    I won't even bother trying to explain how one would pronounce the bishop's name in Nuh Wahluns (the local accent is like a combination of Mississippi, Brooklyn (NY), and a little French thrown in). :-) Thank you for this update and correction.

    Would the civil penalties include things like prohibiting the bishop from conducting weddings and things like that? Is his pension at risk? Can he be compelled not to wear clerical garb?

    Kiitos!

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  11. You are right. He can no longer legally marry people. On the other hand, there is no law against impersonating a clergyperson, so he will no doubt continue to wear the external marks of a pastor and a bishop. I suspect the pension won't be an issue but have no firm knowledge of that. Nobody's mentioned that in Finnish discussions.

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  12. UPDATE:

    I have posted bishop Väisänen's response to the charges against him on my blog. The document may be freely distributed.

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  15. It would seem that Finland is doing its level best to put up candidates for the Sabre of Boldness . . .

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