Archbishop calls for unequivocal Synod stance on homosexuality
Archbishop Kari Mäkinen
According to Archbishop Kari Mäkinen, the Synod of the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church, which convened on Monday, is expected to issue a clear and unequivocal stand on the position of homosexuals in Finland.
”I expect the delegates of the Synod to make an unambiguous decision that will support and encourage homosexual people and same-sex couples who have registered their civil union”, said Mäkinen.
The Archbishop warned the delegates not to focus only on policies or conceptual nuances. Such behaviour would only give a message that the church is remaining silent.
Following a gay rights panel discussion entitled Homoilta (Gay Night) on the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE’s current affairs programme Ajankohtainen Kakkonen, the Evangelical Lutheran Church was caught in the midst of a perfect storm in mid-October.
The fallout rained down heavily on the institution of the Lutheran Church, even though one of the most outspoken panellists was not actually representing the church as such, but the socially conservative political views of the Christian Democrats.
Some people think that the pressures have been unreasonable, but Kari Mäkinen feels that people’s expectations of the church are justified.
A wave of resignations from the church following the gay rights panel discussion has also revealed the longer-term trend according to which the church has no significance for some people.
However, it has also been noticed that the church and the views it represents are still important for many, says Mäkinen.
The Archbishop sees that broadly speaking the church is going through a religious crisis.
”People have been speaking about the crisis in the national church. However, there are many signs showing that the national church is becoming more clearly the people’s church. There is reason to support this by all means at our disposal”, Mäkinen argues.
Mäkinen also thinks that in general negative attitudes in the society have apparently strengthened.
Kimmo Kääriäinen, Director of the Church Research Institute, would like to study whether the number of people who have resigned from the church has been exaggerated.
According to the eroakirkosta.fi website, which facilitates the seceding from the church, the total number of people who made their exit in October was 41,070.
However, according to the preliminary statistics gathered by the Population Register Centre, the figure is only 35,300.
In any event the numbers are greatly elevated from the norm in recent years, and feedback from those leaving has indicated that the gay rights issue was only a factor in a minority of cases.
At the end of October, 78.5% of the Finnish population belonged to the Evangelical Lutheran Church. At the beginning of this year, the figure was close to 80%.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Record numbers of Finns resign from church after gay rights panel discussion on TV (14.10.2010)
Kari Mäkinen elected Lutheran Archbishop in narrow vote (12.3.2010)
Lutheran bishops take cautious stance on same-sex couples (11.2.2010)
Polarised Lutheran Church seeks new referee between reformists and conservatives (16.2.2010)
Church expects to remain solvent despite exodus sparked by gay controversy (19.10.2010)
Gay rights organisation praises enlightened voices from Lutheran Church (23.8.2010)
Gay rights discussion cause of only one in three of recent church resignations (3.11.2010)
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland
Church Research Institute
Population Register Centre