New "reindeer-smelling" bishop invites pope to visit "end of the world"

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He comes from a place that might be considered "the end of the world," where in winter, the sun never rises and the pastor smells like reindeer instead of sheep. His name is Raimo Goyarrola, the new bishop of Helsinki, Finland.

Diocese of Helsinki, Finland

I want to be with the people. I will travel a lot and, obviously, pastoral work will be, as the Pope says: "The shepherd must smell like sheep." But I say: "Smell like reindeer." Because there are no sheep in Finland, but there are many reindeer.

Bishop Goyarrola has met with Pope Francis and, although the Pope does not agree that Finland is the "end of the world", they have found a compromise they can both agree on.

Diocese of Helsinki, Finland

We have spent a good amount of time together. Well, he is like a father. I gave him a big hug. I thanked him for entrusting me with the ministry of "shepherding" this wonderful people of Finland.
The Pope continually speaks of the periphery…Finland is the end of the world: "Fin" "land" or "end of the world". He insists that the "end of the world" is Argentina. But we have come to the conclusion that there is the "end of the world" in the north, which is Finland, and the "end of the world" in the south is Argentina.

On three different occasions, the bishop has invited Pope Francis to travel to Finland, a country where less than 1% of its population is Catholic. However, he says that Finland could play an important role in bringing about the long-awaited peace in Ukraine.

Diocese of Helsinki, Finland

With the current situation in Europe, I believe that Finland can be a bridge to peace in Ukraine. I have invited the Pope. I have told him three times…I understand that his schedule is very tight and the circumstances are what they are, but I hope he can come.
Finland has been a cushion, let's say, between the Eastern Christian world, Russia, and the Western Latin world. And I believe that Finland is going to play a very important role on a social, political and also religious level.

The vast majority of people in Finland are Lutheran. In recent years, however, many have been attracted to the Catholic faith and begun formation classes. And Bishop Goyarrola describes some reasons for the increased conversions with a unique analogy.

Diocese of Helsinki, Finland

Take an entire cake. It can have several layers: cream, chocolate, cherries, strawberries. The Catholic Church is the Church of Christ. We have a 2,000-year-old tradition, the seven sacraments, ethics…We have the whole cake and that global, universal, Catholic vision is what attracts people. For some, it's confession; others, Holy Mass and liturgy; still others ethics, sexuality and marriage; and some, coherence of life. Each one has its own little point of attraction or layer, but the whole cake is the Catholic Church.

In regard to coexistence between different faiths in Finland, Bishop Goyarrola points out that ecumenism in the country continues to bear great fruit, to the point that the whole world is already talking about the “Finnish miracle.”


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