Russian Orthodox Church Wants to Expand Activities in Finland

The Russian Orthodox Church says it wants to expand its operations in Finland. The leader of the Russian church sees a need to cater to the spiritual needs of Russians living in Finland.Cyril, the Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, visited the Valaam Monastery in on an island in Russian Karelia in Lake Ladoga during the weekend.Valaam (or Valamo) was previously a part of Finland and was run by the Finnish Orthodox Church. When the area was ceded to the Soviet Union, the Finnish monks were relocated to a new monastery in Heinävesi; the religious use of the island of Valaam was not resumed until 1989, when the Russian Orthodox Church was allowed back in. Now the island is in the midst of a construction boom.The purpose of Patriarch Cyril's visit was to consecrate the latest new building, a church built for the small military garrison on the island. There was a small Finnish contribution to the project - a businessman from Lahti donated the bells for the new sanctuary.Patriarch Cyril, who took office in January, told YLE that the Russian Church wants to expand its activities in Finland, mainly to cater to the religious needs of increasing numbers of Russian immigrants in the country. He gave assurances that the aim is to do so in cooperation with the Finnish Orthodox Church.