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Bishop Teemu Laajasalo to meet Pope Francis

Bishop of Helsinki Teemu Laajasalo will meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican on 17 January. The meeting has been arranged as part of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, an event held annually between 18 January and 25 January. Bishop Laajasalo will lead the Finnish delegation, which will include, as well as Lutherans, also Father Marco Pasinato of the Catholic Church and Metropolitan Elia of the Orthodox Church.

“I am very grateful for the chance to meet Pope Francis. This meeting is an expression of mutual appreciation for the long-standing theological work of our churches. It is wonderful that the Pope is able to find the time to meet a Lutheran bishop from Finland”, says Bishop Laajasalo.

The Finnish delegation’s visit to Rome is a tradition that hails from 1985. During the Week of Prayer, the delegation attends ecumenical worship services, learns about how the Catholic Church operates and has a private meeting with the Pope.

“The Pope is the face of the Catholic Church, but also of all Christians. With his actions, Pope Francis has been a shining example of faith, compassion and charity to us all. He has also shown how a competent leader can quickly influence a community of over one billion people”, says Bishop Laajasalo.

He adds: “I spent a long time thinking about what I would like to discuss with the Pope in our private meeting. In the end, I decided that I would like to take up a wonderful guideline from his own Christmas homily.”

As a papal gift, Bishop Laajasalo will be presenting Pope Francis with a donation to Columbian peace work made through Felm, the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission.