On Monday, December 10, 2001, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Theodosius, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, visited His Eminence, Archbishop Leo, the recently elected Primate of the Autonomous Orthodox Church of Finland in Helsinki.
Metropolitan Theodosius’ visit took place during his return journey to the United States from Russia, where he had been on a week-long official visit at the invitation of His Holiness, Patriarch Aleksy II of Moscow and All Rus.
In greeting Archbishop Leo, Metropolitan Theodosius extended congratulations on his recent election to the venerable See of Karelia. Archbishop Leo, who had served as Metropolitan of Helsinki, was elected to replace His Eminence, Archbishop John, who announced his retirement in the late fall of 2001.
“Your election to this role of archpastoral service places upon you many new burdens-indeed, it places upon you, once again, the very Cross of Christ,” Metropolitan Theodosius said as he greeted Archbishop Leo. “In light of the new burdens which you now assume, I wish to assure Your Eminence of my fraternal love and prayerful support. May God’s strength and wisdom support and guide you. As Primate of the Church of Finland, may your decisions and actions be directed towards the unity and harmony of your Church as well as towards the unity and harmony of the entire Orthodox Church throughout the world.
“The ties of friendship which unite us to you and the bonds of faith and love which unite the Orthodox Church in America to the Church in Finland are greatly cherished,” Metropolitan Theodosius concluded. “We recall with pleasure your own previous visits to the United States and our own visits to you here in Helsinki on previous occasions. And we look forward to the day on which you will be able to visit us once again, now as Primate of the Autonomous Church of Finland. We join with you in giving thanks to Almighty God for the archpastoral service of His Eminence, Archbishop John. Please convey to him our love and gratitude for his many years of dedicated archpastoral service. May the Lord grant him recompense worthy of his dedication and commitment to Christ’s Holy Church.”
Archbishop Leo, who will be installed in his new office on Sunday, December 16, spoke of his desire to strengthen the existing positive relationship between the American and Finnish Churches, the latter of which is within the jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.
Before returning to the United States on Tuesday, December 11, Metropolitan Theodosius prayed in Helsinki’s renown Assumption Cathedral.