Candidate Mitro Repo could face expulsion from priesthood and Orthodox Church
Fifth century rule could lead to removal
Mitro Repo, a priest of the Finnish Orthodox Church who is running for the European Parliament on the ticket of the Social Democratic Party, could face expulsion from the Orthodox priesthood, and possibly from the Orthodox Church itself.
Repo has been summoned to attend a meeting of the Council of Bishops of the Orthodox Church, under the leadership of Archbishop Leo.
The invitation mentions sections of two old canonic rules from the second and fifth centuries, which Repo can be seen to have violated.
The sixth Apostolic Rule forbids a “bishop, presbyter, or deacon” of the church from taking on worldly tasks, on pain of removal from his post.
The 81st rule of the Holy Apostles states that it is not proper for a bishop or presbyter to “surrender to any worldly administrative matters”. Instead, he should dedicate his time to ecclesiastical matters, as “nobody can serve two masters”.
Even more severe is the seventh rule approved at the the Council of Khalkedon in 451, which orders that clerics and monks in the church must not take on military service or any worldly offices. Those who do so, and who do not repent, would face expulsion from the church.
Previous reactions to Repo’s candidacy have been limited to speculation that he would have to temporarily relinquish his role as priest, and not wear his cassock while campaigning.
Helsingin Sanomat has learned that Mitro Repo has not been able to prepare for his confrontation with the bishops, because he has not been given clear questions that he is expected to answer.
The Finnish bishops have even been in touch with the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Istanbul over the matter.
The view of Archbishop Leo is straightforward. He wrote earlier this year in the Finnish Orthodox publication Analog:
“The canonic tradition of the Orthodox Church takes a negative view of the participation of priests in politics. The background is that of keeping Caesar and God in their own areas. A priest who teaches the truth of God in church cannot, in the same role, move into the field of politics, where the basis of decision-making is never truth, but only necessity.”
The Repo case is also of interest to Minister of Justice Tuija Brax (Green).
Previously in HS International Edition:
WHO? Celebrity pastor dealing out blessings (17.4.2009)
Orthodox Church: Father Mitro should stand as candidate in European Parliament election without his cassock (17.4.2009)
Ministry of Justice: European Parliament Elections 2009
Finnish Orthodox Church