Right after Russia attacked Ukraine, the organizations of priests and chanters of the Orthodox Church of Finland, along with the Orthodox Youth Association of Finland and lay organizations, made a joint appeal to the worshippers of the Church to collect funds for Ukrainian refugees through Filantropia ry, the international aid organization of the Orthodox Church of Finland.
At the same time, the organizations appealed to the other dioceses of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for aid to the refugees, the Orthodox Parish in Helsinki reported.
Two days later, the bishops of the Orthodox Church of Finland, headed by Archbishop Leo of Helsinki and all of Finland, issued a statement strictly condemning the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine.
The bishops unanimously stated that there is no justification for the war in Ukraine, urging people to donate to Filantropia’s fundraising effort.
At the same time, they reminded that the members of the Finnish Church of a Russian background are not to blame and urged all believers to join in prayer for peace.
On the fourth day since the Russian invasion, Filantropia sent the first collection onwards through Eleos Polska, the charity organization of the Polish Orthodox Church. Over 15 000 euros have been collected and donated during the first week.
Some of the Ukrainian refugees will end up in Finland. On March 2, the Orthodox Church of Finland announced that the central administration of the Church had already begun preparations for helping the refugees. The first decisions on allocating a part of the Church budget to this purpose will be made on March 15.
The churchgoers are offering vital support to Ukraine. People have been searching eagerly for concrete ways to help and express their compassion to the Ukrainian people.
As an expression of the collective compassion, the main Church of the Orthodox Church of Finland, the Dormition Cathedral in Helsinki, was lit up in the colors of the Ukrainian flag for three days (March 5-7).
On Sunday, March 6, the Helsinki parish of the Orthodox Church of Finland organized a procession to the front of the Ukrainian embassy. Archbishop Leo met with Ukrainian ambassador Olga Dibrova, who thanked the Finnish Orthodox for help, even though “she had not even had time to ask for it”.
She has also said that the war has taught that “goodwill prevails”. Three hundred people participated in the prayer service for peace.
On Monday, March 7, eleven days since the Russian attack on Ukraine, 1,5 million people had fled Ukraine. This is the most alarming refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War. 67% of the 41 million people in Ukraine are Orthodox.
The Orthodox Church of Finland is an Autonomous Church under the omophorion of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople. This year, Finland will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Tomos issued by Constantinople in 1923.
The Orthodox Church of Finland is well-organized. The Church contains three dioceses, two monasteries (New Valamo monastery for monks and Lintula monastery for nuns), and approximately 59 000 members. The Church has extensive, durable connections to other Orthodox Churches, both organizational and personal. The Church operating in free, democratic Finland is a strong actor in ecumenical work with a solid Orthodox tradition. Many active lay members participate in the church administration and organizations.