Is there a moratorium on new Sui Iuris Churches coming into union with Rome?

I have been involved with the Legion of Mary in Scotland, and one of our works is missions to Finland. These have won several hundred converts, and last year saw the first Finnish Catholic bishop of Finland since the reformation.

10% of the Finnish population are Orthodox. They have a distinctive liturgy and hierarchy, with more Western art than Russian ikons in their churches, but are still, for historical and political reasons, under the Patriarchal authority of Moscow. Orthodox Finns are often looked upon as unpatriotic by their secular/Protestant neighbors for this reason. Looking at the other national churches which sit around the Western border of Russia (Ukrainians, Ruthenians, etc.) I have wondered whether the offer has ever been made for Roman autocephaly for the Finnish Orthodox Church. Such an offer would probably satisfy many of the Orthodox faithful in that country, guaranteeing their distinctive traditions, and demonstrating their commitment to a free democratic Finland, not to Russian imperialist ambitions in the region.

I was wondering whether we are missing a trick, potentially having half a million Catholic converts on hand, and a way of making Catholic tradition familiar and accessible to the people of that country on their own terms. How would an offer of autocephapous status be made by the Roman Church to another body?

Has there been a decision to suspend any such moves to smooth the path for Catholic/Orthodox dialogue?

I have two comments, but they will not answer the main question which has to do with Papal policies.

1 - I didn’t think the Orthodox were so numerous in Finland. I could be mistaken but I wouldn’t expect them to be 10% of the population.

2 - It is true that the Finnish Orthodox were evangelized through the Orthodox of Russia, but the Finnish church is autonomous under the patriarch of Constantinople, not Moscow.

I first should say that I am Orthodox, not Catholic, so my perspective is different than yours.

Why are you evangelizing Orthodox Christians? They have received the apostolic faith and preserved it unchaged, so what more do they lack that they need to be converted to? Universal papal jurisdiction and infallability, which did not exist in the first millenium? I have no doubt that there are many non-Christians in Finland, but I would refer them to their local Orthodox parishes rather than attempt to establish a foreign church there. I can further say that would be devastating to Catholic-Orthodox dialogue, and a clear violation of the principle that we not attempt to convert each other in the interests of eventual reunion.

Amen, Amen, Amen! We have no business “evangelizing” Orthodox Christians! :mad:

The offer does not come from Rome. Those who belong to the Orthodox Church in Finland should by themselves express for communion with Rome, if that is their desire. Then and only then will Rome act on the matter.

I agree with the three knowledgeable posters here before me. We are not to proselytize the Orthodox. If they want communion with Rome, it should come from their own desire and not because Rome is offering them a good deal, like a cellphone company trying to steal clients of another company.

I think what particularly troubles me about this is the intentional use of nationalism as a tool of evangelism, i.e. playing on Finnish anti-Russian sentiment to win converts. I could suggest the Orthodox go into traditionally Catholic areas that have been hit hardest by the pedophilia scandal and use it as a motive to win converts to Orthodoxy. Would that be fair?

Also if one wants to play the nationalism card, then the Orthodox can go to a country thats predominantly Roman Catholic but who’s local cultural practices can’t really fit into the standard Latin Liturgy.

Yes, I see your point very well.

I apologize for the tone of my previous post. We are not seeking to convert Orthodox Finns, but to reach out to the secular and unchurched majority. At the same time, it is sad that we are building the Catholic Church from the ground up and can’t combine with our well established Orthodox cousins. I can see how we could each benefit from unity with one another, and was wondering how such unity might come about.

You can definitely work with them! Hopefully they are open to it as well. But we must respect the current boundaries of our faith. We’re working towards unity, but it must be with the agreement of both sides and nothing that we push on our own.

It is more thn doubtful that any such offer would be made by Rome or even that Rome would entertain such if initiated by the Finnish Orthodox Church. A reported overture to Rome by the Macedonian Orthodox several years ago is said to have been given no consideration by Rome because it is the stated intent that the Catholic Church will not seek to prosletyize or encourage segmental corporate reunions. If I’m not mistaken, there is a relatively recent thread on this site specific to the Macedonian question.

One might add that given the problems that the EC Churches are causing Rome in its rapprochement with the Orthodox, I don’t think Rome would mind if the EC’s themselves “returned home” to their Mother Orthodox Churches, once and for all.

Rome would then at least no longer need to keep apologizing to the Orthodox for the “Unia” as historical acts of ecclesial poaching and invasion into Orthodox jurisdictions etc.

And given how Rome treats Eastern Catholics, it really is a surprise that there still are any Eastern Catholics around . . .


How true. But I guess that it how much we believe in the chair of Peter and his successor who sits on it.

Yes, many of us stay put nomatter what.


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