Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin – 25/3/17
Meeting with Archbishop Leo of Karelia and all Finland and Lecture at the University of Eastern Finland.
KUOPIO, FINLAND: On March 21, His Holiness Karekin II, Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians met with Archbishop Leo of Karelia and all Finland and Head of the Orthodox Church of Finland.
After visiting the Orthodox Church Center and Museum in the city of Kuopio, the Heads of the two Churches offered a joint prayer in the New Valaam monastery complex. Stressing the ancient origins of the Armenian Apostolic Church and the contribution made to the Christian family; Archbishop Leo stressed the importance of the creation of ideas and developments through joint and common efforts of the Armenian Apostolic and the Orthodox Church of Finland, though their warm and brotherly relations.
The Catholicos of All Armenians expressed joy for the opportunity to again, after 13 years, offer a united prayer in the blessed land of Finland with Archbishop Leo of Karelia and all Finland; and his faithful flock.
In his remarks, His Holiness stated in part: “Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, over the course of these days of Great Lent the Church of Christ prepares for the glorious and triumphant Resurrection of our Lord. And as we journey to Easter, once again We have an opportunity to reflect together on the God-blessed land of Finland, about Christian unity and the testimony of love… During the whole course of its history full of tribulations and martyrdoms, the Armenian Church has always realized the commandment on Christian unity and fraternal love, and has highlighted the Christian principle of unity in the most important issues, and love in everything.
…We all as Christians are called to one hope, that is the salvation given by Christ, and only through this common hope, faith, and love, can we feel each other’s pains and problems, and only in this way, can we perpetually dwell in the triumphant Resurrection granted by Jesus Christ. Presently, warfare and terrorist actions unleashed by extremist Islamist powers – ISIS, have brought the world to human catastrophe and numerous crises. Contemporary events demand unification of the efforts and prayers of all the faithful, a common approach for prevention of current military clashes, conflicts on religious grounds, and the social upheaval derived from them”.
His Holiness stressed that over the course of her history the Armenian Church has always considered her participation in safeguarding peaceful cohabitation with other people, tolerance, and solidarity; as the most important aspect of her mission. In this regard, His Holiness referred to the dialogue initiated between the Catholicos of All Armenians and the spiritual leader of Azerbaijan since the first day of the conflict in Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) and the efforts towards a peaceful settlement of the conflict.
“…Sadly, Azerbaijan desires to solve the problem through military actions, the evidence of which are the military operations launched against Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh) by Azerbaijan on April 2016.
…As a nation which has suffered the calamities and pains of war, it is our wish that peace may be speedily established in the world, so that there are no mourning widows, orphaned children, and mothers deprived of their sons and daughters, so that all people may live in safety, peace, and happiness.
With these thoughts We extend our heartfelt prayer to God in the Highest, beseaching the Lord to grant us the grace of His love and strengthen us with His Spirit of truth.
May all gracious God bless the Republic of Finland and the kind-hearted people of this hospitable country, by granting enduring peace and prosperity…”, stated His Holiness Karekin II.
Following the common prayer, His Holiness and his delegation; together with the Archbishop of the Orthodox Church of Finland and his delegation; were hosted by Archmindrate Sergius, the Abbot of the New Valaam Monastery.
On March 22, His Holiness and his delegation were introduced to the daily life of the monastery, and the cultural and various initiatives implemented by the monsk, and the monastic structures.
In the afternoon, His Holiness visited the Orthodox Department of Theology, at the School of Theology at the University of Eastern Finland Joensuu, where His Holiness presented brief remarks on: “Is there a specific Armenian approach to the Islamic world?”.
During the speech, His Holiness primarily focused on the peaceful coexistence and instances of open dialogue, as well as the historical experience of the Armenian people and the Armenian Apostolic Church in interaction with the Muslim world. His Holiness answered questions following his remarks.
The speech was also attended by Archbishop Leo of Karelia and all Finland, lecturers and students of the theological school.
Following the presentation, His Holiness, accompanied by Archbishop Leo and a Finnish Orthodox Church delegation, traveled to the Joensuu city airport, from where the Pontifical delegation will travel to Helsinki then Moscow to return to the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin.