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Popular Finnish Orthodox priest wins EU parliament seat

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  • Al Green
    http://www.eubusiness.com/news-eu/1244413022.42 Popular Finnish Orthodox priest wins EU parliament seat 08 June 2009, 00:25 CET (HELSINKI) - An outspoken
    Message 1 of 2 , Jun 7, 2009
      http://www.eubusiness.com/news-eu/1244413022.42

      Popular Finnish Orthodox priest wins EU parliament seat

      08 June 2009, 00:25 CET


      (HELSINKI) - An outspoken Finnish Orthodox Church priest who was barred from serving the church for standing in Sunday's European election was one of 13 candidates elected to represent Finland in the assembly.

      Father Mitro Repo, 50, an independent candidate on the Finnish Social Democratic Party's list, won some 71,500 direct votes, enabling him to take one of the Social Democrats' two seats.

      "Honestly, this (popularity) was partly a surprise to me," Repo said in an interview with public broadcaster YLE.

      The candid priest made headlines a couple of weeks ago when the Orthodox bishops' meeting banned Repo from serving as a priest during his EU parliament candidacy and possible political career.

      "A priest is, like his role model, everybody's servant and therefore cannot represent one particular group in society," the church explained at the time.

      The church barred Repo from conducting religious services or wearing the priest's robe or any other symbols of the priesthood because Orthodox tradition prohibits priests from participating in politics.

      Repo told AFP then that he was disappointed and surprised by the bishops' decision because there had previously been other Finnish Orthodox priests who were active in politics.

      But Finns showed that Repo's candidacy was not a mistake, and he garnered more votes than anybody else on the Social Democrats list.

      "I will promote a more human Europe. I have been talking about the problems in working life for years in Finland and I will pursue that also in Europe," he said.

      Repo, or Father Mitro as he is known by most Finns, has written numerous books and columns on a variety of subjects, including depression and school shootings, and has appeared on many television programmes always wearing his black robe.

      He is known for his good sense of humour.

      The Finnish Orthodox Church has some 60,500 members, compared to 4.3 million members in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland.
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