Klikkaa itsesi Mitron postilla-arkistoon tästä

Uusimmat kirjoitukset

3.7.2014Aikaansaannokseni Euroopan parlamentissaLue lisää »22.5.2014Populismi USA-kauppasopimuksella on pikkusieluistaLue lisää »21.5.2014Oikeisto voittamassa eurovaalit -- Uusi SuomiLue lisää »

Tiedotteet

In Finland, a Man of Politics, Without His Cloth -- The New York Times, USA

20.06.2009

BY conventional lights, the Rev. Mitro Repo’s candidacy for the European Parliament never should have succeeded. As a Finnish Orthodox priest, he was bucking his superiors, who have strict rules about the mixing of politics and piety. As a Social Democrat, he was bucking the political tides sweeping Europe after the financial crisis.

But last Sunday Father Repo, 50, the son and grandson of priests, was elected as an independent candidate on the Social Democratic ticket as one of Finland’s 13 deputies in the 376-seat Parliament. It was a bittersweet victory in one respect: along the way, the bishops of the church forbade him to conduct religious services or wear the robe or pectoral cross or any other symbols of his priesthood. “They are accusing me of a crime,” he said of the church officials during the campaign. “I think it is an honor to do what I do.”

But while the church may not have liked his politics, the people did, giving Father Repo one of two Social Democratic seats, one fewer than they won last time.

“Honestly, this was a surprise to me,” he told Finnish radio after the vote. His aim as a deputy, he said, would be to “promote a more humane Europe.”

“For years I’ve been addressing problems of public life in Finland,” he said. “I will continue to do so in Europe.”

Elections to the European Parliament are usually about as exciting as watching grass grow. The Parliament is gradually gaining more power, but few Europeans care much about it. But the candidacy of Father Mitro, as everyone calls him here, injected unaccustomed energy.

A jovial and warm man, Father Repo has ruddy, round cheeks, a rust-colored beard and mustache, sparkling eyes behind wire-rimmed glasses and a deep laugh that would make him a great Santa, if only the beard were whiter. For all his spirituality, he lives life to the fullest. On the campaign trail he used a chauffeur-driven Chrysler 300. He enjoys a good meal, and when he sat down recently in a local restaurant to talk with a visitor, he first ordered up two glasses of cabernet sauvignon.

“I think my candidacy was a great honor,” he said. “For me, and for my church.”

Father Repo is not the first religious leader to enter the European Parliament. There were four Protestant ministers in the last one, including Ian Paisley, the firebrand Protestant evangelist from Northern Ireland who sat in the Parliament from its founding in 1979 until he retired in 2004.

“It’s difficult to perceive him as a priest,” said Juri Mykkanen, a professor of political science at Helsinki University, of Father Repo. “He is relaxed, ordinary, with a sense of irony.” Father Repo was “unusual,” he said, “more open to the world than we’re used to. Not everyone in the church likes that.”

Mr. Mykkanen believes the church’s stance may even have lifted Father Repo’s popularity. “I am not sure that the bishops didn’t do the Social Democrats a favor,” he said.

ALWAYS drawn to art, Father Repo was sent as a teenager to Paris to study icon painting with the reigning master, Leonid A. Ouspensky. After teaching Latin, Greek and the New Testament for a while, he entered the priesthood in his early 30s, “the age of Christ,” he said, speaking fluent English and quoting the church fathers and the New Testament in Greek and Church Slavonic.

From the start, it was obvious that his priesthood would not be ordinary. In addition to serving his church here, he began visiting workers in their factories and financial and business leaders in their offices. His buoyant personality soon got him invited to radio and television talk shows.

For many Finns, it was remarkable for an Orthodox priest, in cassock and with cross, to play such a public role. Orthodoxy’s 62,000 faithful make up only about 1 percent of the population in Finland, where the dominant church is Lutheran.

Tragic family events, like the suicide of an older brother, sensitized Father Repo to issues like mental health, and in 2006 the Finnish Central Association for Mental Health named him its annual ambassador of good will, to help raise awareness.

“He’s not afraid of talking publicly about mental health,” said Ismo Laukkarinen, an official at the association. “And of course, he’s a very cheerful person, he brings joy wherever he goes.”

Father Repo’s popularity soon had Finland’s political parties beating a path to his door. First was the conservative party of the prime minister, Matti Vanhanen, soon followed by the other five parties. In the end, he chose the left-leaning Social Democrats. “I recognized myself in the themes of their program,” he said.

For Father Repo, the hardest part of all this has been the demand that he stop working as a priest. “I heard from my parents that already at 5 I wanted to be a priest,” he said with a laugh. “I imitated my father.” Father Repo was the ninth of 13 children. “At 7 I’d decided I’d become an archbishop,” he said with a deep chuckle.

Recalling Orthodoxy’s Slavic roots, he added: “The Eastern Orthodox world has much to give Western Europe — its sincerity, its emotional way.”

He added: “The soul of Fyodor Dostoyevsky is something we need in Europe.”

The bishops’ decision does not mean Father Repo ceases to be a priest, but only that he cannot function as such or wear the garb of a priest in public. So now he has replaced cassock and cross with a white shirt, suit and tie, though his business card still identifies him as “pastor” and has a picture of Helsinki’s onion-domed Ouspensky Cathedral.

He sees himself as part of an Orthodox tradition that dates from Byzantine times, in which the line between public figure and priest blurred. He cited Archbishop Makarios, who in the 1970s was Archbishop of Cyprus and leader of the Greek Cypriot community there, but also Russian Orthodox priests who in 1919 and again in the early 1990s were active in parliamentary politics.

BUT Jyrki Harkonen, the theological secretary of the church, said different times demanded different policies. “We were very isolated then, the independence of the churches was not respected as it is today in the European Union,” he said.

“The synod encouraged him to participate in public life,” Mr. Harkonen said, “but as a simple person, not as an Orthodox priest.”

But Father Repo objects that “in the Byzantine tradition, from which Orthodoxy went forth, it is not normal spirituality to say, ‘I am a Christian only in my interior life.’ Parliaments are discussing morality and ethics, and I think I can have a spirituality as a representative of Eastern European countries and cultures.”

Yet, Father Repo must for now content himself with an interior spiritual life. In the evenings, when he can, he often retreats to a rustic cottage that he built, with a tiny chapel decorated with icons he himself painted, for a relaxing sauna, a dip in a nearby pond and fervent prayer.

In his secular life, Father Repo says whimsically that he strives to emulate President Obama. “Do you see how natural he is?” he asked. “How authentic?”

The only major difference, he says with a characteristic twinkle, is that his Chrysler 300, unlike Mr. Obama’s steel-blue model, which he sold last year, is metallic silver.

 

This article was published in The New York Times 12.6.2009

03.07.2014Aikaansaannokseni Euroopan parlamentissa
22.05.2014Populismi USA-kauppasopimuksella on pikkusieluista
21.05.2014Oikeisto voittamassa eurovaalit -- Uusi Suomi
14.05.2014Rasismia ja identiteettikriisiä -- Uusi Suomi
14.05.2014Työaika hampaankolossa -- Iltalehti blogi
14.05.2014Rasismia ja identiteettikriisiä -- Uusi Suomi
13.05.2014Teknologiset mullistukset vaativat uutta ajattelua -- Suomen Yrittäjien EU-vaaliblogi
12.05.2014Ikäpolitiikka otettava vakavasti -- Väestöliiton blogi
09.05.2014Time is ripe for diplomacy -- EPToday
08.05.2014Ikähaaste -- Uusi Suomi
26.04.2014Hyvästit hedelmäpusseille -- Kaleva
22.04.2014Vaatekohu on häpeällinen -- Savon Sanomat
19.04.2014EU sopuun pankkiunionista -- Etelä-Suomen Sanomat
17.04.2014Time is ripe for diplomacy -- Helsinki Times
16.04.2014Mobiilipelien yllätyskulut kuriin -- Hämeen Sanomat
10.04.2014Stop naisiin kohdistuvalle väkivallalle -- Turun Sanomat
04.04.2014Muovikasseista on päästävä eroon -- Maaseudun tulevaisuus
03.04.2014Venäjän äärellä -- Voima-lehti
21.03.2014Kansanvaltaa vai teknokratiaa? -- Etelä-Suomen Sanomat
18.03.2014Arktisen alueen juna on jo menossa -- Demokraatti
16.03.2014Arktinen alue kutsuu - myöhästymmekö junasta? -- Lapin Kansa
14.03.2014Vastuullisia vaatteita -- Kansan Uutiset
13.03.2014Kallis kotimaa -- Ilkka
12.03.2014Allting är inte svartvitt -- Hufvudstadsbladet
05.03.2014Rekkajonot Sveitsin rajalle? -- Savon Sanomat
03.03.2014Mitä Venäjä miettii? -- Uusi Suomi
03.03.2014Politiikkaa ja urheiluboikottia -- Keskisuomalainen
02.03.2014Valtioviisauden paikka! -- Kirkkonummen Sanomat
28.02.2014Vaalimaalle tax free -myymälä? -- Kymen Sanomat/Etelä-Saimaa
20.02.2014YK-joukot Ukrainaan? -- Uusi Suomi
17.02.2014Kannabis 2.0 -- Uusi Suomi
10.02.2014Eurovaaleista luvassa muutosvaalit -- Demokraatti
08.02.2014Poliittista peliä urheilulla -- Savon Sanomat
08.02.2014Poliittista peliä urheilukilpailuilla -- Turun Sanomat
05.02.2014Kansanvalta 2.0 -- Uusi Suomi
30.01.2014Kipaisepa Narkossa! -- Voima 1/2014
21.01.2014Kansanko edustajia? -- Demokraatti
20.01.2014Julkiset hankinnat uudistuvat -- Etelä-Suomen Sanomat
20.01.2014Kreikka EU:n peräsimessä -- Demokraatti
06.01.2014Tuoko USA kauppasopimuksella omat lakinsa Suomeen? -- Kauppalehti
19.12.2013Euroopan unionista tullut eritahtiunioni -- Kaleva
17.12.2013Harjoittelijalle korvaus tehdystä työstä -- Turun Sanomat
17.12.2013EU kulkee eritahtisena -- Savon Sanomat
17.12.2013Viher- ja valkopesua verkossa -- Keskisuomalainen
13.12.2013Vastahankainen Britannia -- Demokraatti
12.12.2013Paradoksien äärellä - Kotimaa24
03.12.2013Euroopan on pakko muuttua -- Selkosanomat
26.11.2013Entistä vastuullisempia julkisia hankintoja -- Savon Sanomat
25.11.2013Ukraina, Suomi ja EU -- Hämeen Kaiku
24.11.2013Naiskiintiöt vs. tasa-arvo -- Kirkkonummen Sanomat
20.11.2013EU-parka -- Uusi Suomi
08.11.2013Kuinka uutisankka paistetaan -- Uusi Suomi
07.11.2013Paluu harvainvaltaan ei ole ratkaisu -- Hämeen Kaiku
01.11.2013Vallankaappaus Britanniassa? -- Demokraatti
31.10.2013Savonlinna, Suomi ja Eurooppa
30.10.201330-luvun keinot digitaalisena -- Savon Sanomat
24.10.2013Tietosuojan torjuntavoitto -- Kaleva
24.10.2013Strasbourgin muurit horjuvat -- demari.fi
21.10.2013Demarit ja Saksa -- Demokraatti
15.10.2013Solidaarisuutta syyrialaispakolaisille -- Turun Sanomat
15.10.2013Solidaritet med syriska flyktingar -- Hufvudstadsbladet
10.10.2013Ihmisoikeuspalkinto tyttöjen oikeuksien puolustajalle -- Etelä-Suomen Sanomat
07.10.2013Ikkunat auki Eurooppaan -- Voima-lehti
04.10.2013Kohtalokas EU-vaalikevät -- Aamulehti
03.10.2013Eespäin vaalikentille -- Demokraatti
03.10.2013Verkkopankki on perusoikeus -- Helsingin Sanomat
02.10.2013Suomalaista luotettavuutta Euroopan verkkokauppaan -- Ilkka
30.09.2013Kreikka ui syvällä -- Kotimaa
27.09.2013Nuorille töitä ensin -- Kymen Sanomat
18.09.2013Ei turhake eikä linnake -- Savon Sanomat
17.09.2013Kohtalokkaat EU-vaalit -- Demokraatti
16.09.2013Sosiaalisesti vastuuttomia palveluita? -- Kaleva
16.09.2013Vesi vanhin voitehista -- Maaseudun Tulevaisuus
22.08.2013Politiikka on vertaisuuden sisäistämistä -- ITU-lehti
25.07.2013Finland and Slovakia - the little big countries of Europe -- Helsinki Times
23.07.2013Sähköisen viidakon hitaat ja huolettomat -- Uudenkaupungin Sanomat
18.07.2013Sähköstä terveyttäkö?! -- Keskisuomalainen
18.07.2013Tekniikka voi tuoda terveyttä
12.07.2013Puheluiden hintaeroista vihdoin eroon -- Turun Sanomat
11.07.2013Mikseivät asiakkaat kelpaa pankeille? -- Kainuun Sanomat
09.07.2013Vakoilu-hulluutta -- Savon Sanomat
09.07.2013Kolme viisasta miestä -- Demokraatti
07.07.2013Vakoilija seisoo takanasi -- Kirkkonummen Sanomat
07.07.2013Väylämaksut nakertavat Suomen kilpailukykyä -- Länsi-Suomi
03.07.2013Tarvitaan lisää rajanylityspaikkoja -- Lappeenrannan Uutiset
01.07.2013Vaarallisen hyvää -- Ilkka
01.07.2013Pietari, Helsinki, Pariisi -- Voima-lehti
28.06.2013Verkkopalvelut taattava näkövammaisille -- HS
28.06.2013Stop katteettomille markkinointilupauksille -- Keskipohjanmaa
27.06.2013Sukututkimusseminaari Brysselissä -- Sukuviesti
25.06.2013Finland och Slovakien ? små stora länder i Europa -- Hufvudstadsbladet
21.06.2013Paratiisista karkotus? -- Uusi Suomi
20.06.2013Lappikin arktinen aarreaitta -- Lappilainen
20.06.2013Olemme rajankävijöiden sukua -- Vaarojen Sanomat
20.06.2013Zamestitel' Glavy respubliki Valentina Ulich vstretilas' s finskoy delegatsiyey v ramkakh provodimogo v Karelii Epicheskogo foruma
19.06.2013Komissio ei tutki Applen tuotteiden hintapolitiikkaa -- Kaleva
17.06.2013Turvapaikanhakijoiden vastaanottoa koskemaan yhteiset vähimmäisvaatimukset -- Etelä-Suomen Sanomat
07.06.2013Euroedustajista komissaareiksi -- Demokraatti
07.06.2013Komissiolta odotetaan selvitystä sukututkimuksen kohtalolle
04.06.2013Nykyisistä nuorista ikääntyneitä köyhiä? -- Kainuun Sanomat

Näytä lisää »