Finnish proposal: Higher pastoral degree no longer required of army chaplain


Northern Europe


Photo AFP, Christof Stache

Currently, army chaplains in Finland need a higher pastoral degree to be qualified for their work. A new proposal aims to release this requirement and enable army deacons with field experience to be promoted to the function of chaplain without needing this degree. The Bishop's Conference of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland opposes the bill.

The Bishop's Conference discussed the amendment during a meeting last Tuesday, Seurakuntalainen writes. The proposal wants new army chaplains to either meet the old requirement of having a higher pastoral degree or to have field experience as a deacon.

Even though the bishops agree that the competence needs of the Defense Forces should be taken into account in the work of chaplains, they do not think that the requirement of a higher pastoral degree should be relinquished.

According to the church, field bishops need strong spiritual, theological and administrative skills in the clerical tasks that they have to do. Chaplains are full members of the church council, Seurakuntalainen writes. They have the right to attend and speak at the meeting. Therefore, the Bishop's Conference is of the opinion that field bishops also need theological knowledge and the ability to lead spiritually.

The proposal of the Defence Ministry furthermore pleads for a change in requirements for field inspectors, who currently need to meet the same requirements as vicars in the Evangelical Lutheran Church. The Defence Ministry wants to add sufficient experience as a military chaplain to it as a condition. The bishops think that is the right thing to do.



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