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Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Cooperation with women bishops is not entirely new to the Diocese in Europe

The Church of England General Synod continues its process with regard to women in the episcopate this week. There is a range of opinion in our diocese about women bishops, as in the other 43 dioceses of the Church of England. But it is interesting to note (and perhaps this is a distinction from the other 43), that we already have routine collaboration and good working relations with women bishops. I am referring, of course, to such bishops already consecrated in some of the Lutheran Churches which have signed the Porvoo Agreement. 

One example is in Helsinki. The Bishop of Helsinki (Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland) is the Rt Revd Irja Askola. Like her predecessor, Bishop Eero Huovinen, she is providing vital support and encouragement to the Anglican Church in Finland's chaplaincy of St Nicholas in Helsinki. We are grateful for funding from Finnish parishes in her diocese, as well as support from the Headquarters of the Finnish Church, which provides essential support for our own ministry. I was recently able to visit her to thank her for her Church's ongoing, and tangible, commitment, and for her role as bishop which serves to make this possible. 

Bishop Irja is an experienced ecumenist having given significant leadership in the Conference of European Churches and in her own country. She maintains particularly warm relations with the Orthodox Church in Finland, which, although a much smaller body, is also an official national church.

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