Monday, May 30

The Finnish Catholic Church?

Rumor has it that the Finnish Lutheran Church would like to be... Catholic. That is, if by rumor, I mean "speech by the presiding bishop of the Finnish Lutheran Church at the Eucharistic Congress in Bari, Italy."

After explaining that Martin Luther did not want to found a new church but simply renew it, the bishop said, "We Finnish Lutherans wish to be part of the Catholic Church of Christ."

Given that Sunday is the theme of the Eucharistic Congress, the Lutheran said that one cannot live "without the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, without Christ and without God."

"Sunday is the day of Christ's resurrection" and "the Eucharist is the sacrament of the real presence of Christ," he said.


The Lutheran Church of Finland is quite interesting. Its English site has a Latin edition of the official catechism issued in 1999. I submit to you that there is only one audience in the world for which a Latin edition of a final catechism is prepared, and that audience was formerly headed by the current Roman Pontiff.

Finland bills itself as "the most Lutheran country in the world." Imagine the effects of its union with Rome--the goodwill it would show the world.

Even more interesting, Finnish interest in union with Rome comes as the Lutheran Church there is GROWING, and is not (as one sometimes suspects with talks of Anglican union with Rome) the result of ecclesial rot or theological disinterest. The afore-mentioned Lutheran homepage reports that Finland saw a REVERSE in secularism during the 1990's:
edition of their 1999 catechism.

The Finns’ confidence in the church increased substantially in the 1990s. While 32% of the Finns expressed confidence in the church in 1990, no fewer than 57% did so in 2000.
The majority of the Finns regard the Church as necessary, honest, competent and reliable. Many negative perceptions lost their edge during the late 1990s. The most significant change was that by the end of the 1990s only 35% of Finns saw the Church as old-fashioned, while in the mid-1990s this view had been held by 51%.
About half the Finns (47%) say that they believe in God as taught by Christianity. The proportion of those believing in God as taught by Christianity increased significantly over the 1990s. In 1991, only a third of the Finns said that they held such beliefs.

A recent report on church architecture at the same site uses the word "altar" exclusively, and references paintings of the suffering of Christ, Crucifixes, and the Stations of the Cross as standard components of Finnish churches.

Nonetheless, the Lutheran Church is still quite Lutheran:

Accordingly the Church confesses the Christian faith, which is based solely on the Bible. The faith is expressed in the three ecumenical creeds which date from the Early Church, i.e. the Apostles' Creed, the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian Creed. The confession of the Evangelical Lutheran Church is explained by the Augsburg Confession (1530) and the other Lutheran confessions.

The Church teaches that Christ is present in his Church through the agency of the Word and sacraments. Christ by his grace gives free salvation to all who believe in him. There are two sacraments - baptism and Holy Communion.

All very interesting, at least.

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