The Church’s finances made national news and gave rise to social media debate in early 2018, when the newly elected Bishop of Helsinki Teemu Laajasalo was asked to answer questions about his credit card use during his previous position as a vicar.
Public confusion about finances to be clarified
On 11 January 2018, the Parish Union of Helsinki announced that it would commission a report on its finances from an external independent expert to settle the matter. As part of its work, the independent party will review all cases of suspected financial malfeasance covered in the media. The report will also deal with the effectiveness of the parish union’s internal system of supervision, as well as its financial practices and approval procedures. Moreover, credit card use and the approval of credit card bills will be included in the report.
“We will get to the bottom of this. Openness and responsibility require nothing to be left unclear," assured the parish union director, Juha Rintamäki.
Bishop of Helsinki Teemu Laajasalo also said it would be good to deal with any issues that had received public attention.
“I consider it a very good thing that the authorities are settling the matter. I will offer them my full support and help both parties in their work.
“In my previous position, I made errors of judgment and was careless. For that I apologise. I have disappointed many people with my actions. It is time for me to do some soul-searching and make some changes,” said Laajasalo in a press release published on 15 January 2018.
Any financial malfeasance is an isolated case
Over the years, the Church has discovered some isolated financial malfeasance cases in its midst. The Church has openly discussed these cases when they have been investigated and led to charges and punishment.
The Parish Union of Helsinki also stated that any issues with credit card bills or travel expenses are isolated cases. Parish union director Rintamäki has also pointed out that the overwhelming majority of purchases are made properly and exactly as instructed.