Northern European Churches break with Moscow


Northern Europe


Meeting of the SKKB. Photo Facebook, Council of Christian Churches in the Barents Region

Lutheran and Orthodox bishops in Finland, Sweden and Norway declare that the Cooperation Council for Christian Churches in the Barents Region (SKKB) will cancel all activities because of the Ukrainian conflict.

In a Facebook post, the Council explains that the war in Ukraine has consequences for the cooperation between Russia and other countries. It means that several meetings, under more than one in September 2022, are cancelled.

The Cooperation Council was formed in 1996. Its members are Lutheran and Orthodox dioceses from Norway, Finland, Sweden and Russia, Vårt Land reports. Its original aim was to "strengthen and develop contact with the Russian Orthodox Church in northern Russia" and "establish a church cooperation council in the region."

Of the nine dioceses in the Council, four are Russian. One of them is led by the controversial bishop Mitrofan who clearly showed support for the war in a sermon last March. His statements led to many critical remarks, under more from Olav Øygard, the Bishop of Nord-Hålogaland. He said that Mitrofan's statements were very problematic for the council SKKB.

The statement reads that the Council has registered "with sadness and dismay that leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church support the invasion." According to Dagen, it continues by saying that the members of the council "strongly dissociate" themselves from the statements and condemn the attack on Ukraine, calling for an "immediate end to hostilities."

Bishop Olav Øygard says to Vart Land that he has a slight hope that the Council will be re-established. "This depends on the development of the situation in Ukraine and how the Russian Orthodox Church reacts to the war."



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