Page 6, 13th September 1957

13th September 1957
Page 6
Page 6, 13th September 1957 — FINLAND

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Will Be


validly ordained clergy and believe in the true Catholic doctrines concerning the Mass and the Sacraments. but -who reject the Pope as Supreme Pastor, number about 80,000 souls. The Patriarch of Moscow has endeavoured repeatedly of late to bring these Orthodox Finns under his own jurisdiction, but so far only about a thousand Orthodox Christians in Helsinki and the monks of the dwindling -monasteries of Valano and Konevitsa, now combined together, have recognised the patriarchate of Moscow.

The majority of Orthodox Finns recognise the Patriarch of Constantinople as their head and sturdily refuse to lose the autonomy which has been theirs since 1923. They have already had to pay a heavy price for that independence.



WHAT is the position of a Catholic priest amongst these Orthodox ? The answer is simple. All Finns formerly were members of the Catholic Church and, please God, they will acknowledge the See of Peter again. In this work of conversion Catholic priests of the Latin Rite will bring the full Faith of Christ's Church to the Lutheran population. Catholic priests of the Byzantine Rite will similarly bring the Faith to those Orthodox Finns who have grown up in the Byzantine tradition and who are separated from us by schism.

Catholic priests of all the different rites preach the same Faith, but they do so according to the differing traditions and customs of their separate historical cultures.

Fr. Robert was trained at the Russicum in Rome and established himself at Rekola towards the end of the war. Like many churches in Scandinavia, Fr. Robert's chapel, built by himself and dedicated to St. Peter and St. Paul, is constructed of wood. Catholic churches of the Byzantine Rite abound in ikons and the Rekola chapel is no exception. Fr. Robert is his own excellent iconographer, so much so that he has been commissioned even by the Orthodox. as at Valkeakoski, to paint iconostases for their churches. The iconostaeis is the screen in front of the altar in all Russian Byzantine churches, Fr. Robert's iconostasis is a wonderful array of saints and scenes, with an ikon of Our Lord to the right of the main dour in the screen. one of Our Lady to the left, and ikons of the Archangel Raphael and Saint Lawrence the Deacon on the side doors. The use of these doors will be familiar to anyone who has attended Mass in The Byzantine Rite at any of the Catholic churches of the Eastern rite in Great Britain. such as the Byelorussian Catholic chapel in North Finchley or the Ukrainian Catholic churches in London. Manchester, Rochdale and other places.

Fr. Robert, by special -permission from Rome. celebrates the Byzantine Mass or, as it is -more correctly called, the Byzantine Liturgy on alternate Sundays in Slavonic and Finnish. As the only Catholic priest of his rite at work in Finland, his is the unique privilege of being able to say Mass in Finnish, although there are many Orthodox pre,sts who do so.

There are only a few Catholics of the Russian Rite in Finland, but at Rekola on a Sunday morning at 10 o'clock, both Lutherans and Orthodox can he seen attending the Mass. After Mass, the congregation stays behind for a cup of toffee and sandwiches and also for a talk by Fr. Robert on some religious subject. Only in this way. by informal talks and personal contact. is Fr. Robert able to traverse the boundaries of prejudice and misunderstanding which the centuries have established between Catholics and Orthodox.



-Li Y his presence alone, this priest is a witness amongst the Orthodox Christians of Finland to the universality of the Catholic Church, speaking to them in a liturgical language they understand and living

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