Monday, March 22, 2010

Finnish Lutherans Have a Faithful Bishop

by Larry Beane

Just nine days after the (Lutheran) Church of Finland elected an archbishop that approves of church blessings of same-sex couples, faithful Lutherans in Finland who believe in Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions now have a confessional and faithful bishop, the 75-year old Matti Väisänen.

Bishop Arne Olsson of Sweden's Mission Province consecrated Bishop Väisänen this past Saturday (March 20), and Sabre of Boldness recipient (2006) Bishop Walter Obare of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Kenya preached the sermon. The newly-consecrated bishop studied at Concordia Theological Seminary from 1961 to 1963. And thanks to his consecration at the Sacred Heart Chapel in Helsinki, faithful Finnish candidates for the office of the holy ministry will be able to be ordained to the diaconate and the priesthood for the first time since 2001.

In the photo above, Sabre of Boldness recipient (2009) Fr. Juhana Pohjola, is standing right behind the bishop's crosier (the third man from the right). In the photo below, Bp. Obare gives Bp. Väisänen a blessing. Fr. Pohjola is the first man from the left.

Thanks be to God for the courageous work of the faithful pastors and laity in Scandinavia, who serve Christ and the Gospel in spite of the fiery darts of the evil one. Let us keep these brothers and sisters in Christ in our prayers, even as their example inspires us and stirs us to faithful service of our Lord and His Church.

For more information and photos, see Dr. Chris Barnekov's outstanding article here at the Scandinavia House website.


  1. Fr. Beane,

    This is exciting news and wonderful for our Finnish brethren.

    As the GO resident scholar for northern European stuff: do you know what the deal is with Estonia? Are they ordaining women? Is there a movement there to change that through a new bishop or a mission province?


  2. Estonia has ordained women since 1967 -- and unlike Latvia, where the archbishop who began to ordain women there in 1975 was succeeded in 1986 by an archbishop who refused to ordain women, who was succeeeded in turn in 1989 by an archbishop who resumed ordaining women, who was succeeded in 1993 by the current archbishop who refuses to ordain women, all subsequent archbishops have ordained women. When I was in Estonia in 1999 I met with a well-informed Estonian Lutheran church member and employee, who told me that there always has been, and is, strong opposition to WO, but that successive archbishops have used all manner of tactics to silence (the thread of disunity and "schism") or buy off (by allowing a very "Catholic-style" experimental Mass rite) the opponents.

    In Latvia, one has to remember that under Archbishop Vanags WO has merely been suspended rather than condemned. This is possibly due to a desire not to break completely with "the Latvian Lutheran Church Outside Latvia" which ordains women and in which 90%+ of iots current ordinands are female.

  3. Dear Fr. Heath:

    I'm glad Dr. Tighe weighed in. My "scholarship" in such matters consists of asking the guys who really do know what they are talking about. ;-)

    I do know that Bp. Lytkin of the Siberian Evangelical Lutheran Church, which does not "ordain" women (and with whom the LCMS is currently negotiating to go into fellowship) was consecrated in Estonia at the Cathedral in Talinn.

    How those two churches relate to one another, I don't know.


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