Metropolitan Cleopas of Sweden responds to naysayers’ critique of “Stop talking about Missionary work, at last”

1 July 2021
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Metropolitan Cleopas of Sweden called on all those doubting the need for missionary work in the Scandinavian region to reconsider their position in a mildly critical letter recounting the pastoral work of his mission in the northern region of Europe.

“Celebrating the Gathering of the Twelve Apostles, we were asked a few days ago to welcome another member into the Orthodox Church, through Christ. This is a Swedish gentleman, whose sacrificial offering, the presentation of his scientific knowledge, and his interventions in technical matters that concern our Church in Scandinavia, that is, the utilization and distribution of his gifts to the common good, are a living testimony of “orthopraxy”, which has now received the stamp of “orthodoxy”, to verify the classic phrase of St. Gregory the Theologian: “Practice is the theory of boarding”.

Quoting from scripture and the command of the Risen Jesus Christ to His disciples, “to go to all nations and to preach the gospel and to be baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”, as well as contemporary Church leaders like Archbishop Anastasios of Durres and all of Albania: “A church without a missionary work is a Church without a mission”, Cleopas added that evangelising did not only concern non-Orthodox, but also the “re-evangelisation” of members within the Orthodox Church, ie the need for catechism at all levels, from the simplest to the most complex.”

“For some people, who, comfortable with the security of the family asylum and the rest of the couch, with outdated stereotypes, utter or write-heavy words against clergy, whenever their decisions or actions are not to their liking. They do not hesitate in the delusion they live and the spiritual delusion they offer, to put on a “Christian” cloak, invoking passages from the Bible or even Fathers of the Church, while all they succeed is, instead of building, scandalizing and deconstructing, they perform literally a “homicide”!”
They consider that Christ and His Church is a personal privilege, their property, which they should not or are afraid to share with others and therefore, in their own “thought”, the Church has a national or nationalist character, that is, precisely only Greek, which does not always fit “nations”.”

We should not, however, equate the term “Mission” exclusively with the foreign mission, which, no doubt, thanks to the tireless, with many sacrifices and deprivations, efforts of the missionaries, takes place in countries of the low standard of living, in order to proclaim the Gospel throughout creation. But this is one aspect of the mission.
The other, equally important, is the internal mission, that is, the possibility to know empirically the essence of the faith and from the superficial elements, the external type, to pass to what Orthodoxy is, not as a facade, but as a substance, our re-evangelism.
Remembering the parable of the Good Seed, in the northernmost province of the Ecumenical Throne in Scandinavia, the word of the Lord bears fruit. I praise God every day because, in the 7 years of my humble hierarchical ministry, 70 anointings and 58 adult baptisms were performed throughout the Holy Metropolis. These 128 people approached the Orthodox Church, with humility and sincere interest, and becoming members, although not of Greek origin, became the best ambassadors of our Traditions, imbued with an exemplary and enthusiastic willingness to volunteer and selfless contribution to our ecclesiastical life.
It should be noted that the work of our local Church is largely based on their good and virtuous disposition, as they are a living cell of the church body. Without the ministry and the use of the talents of these new members, our local Church would be deprived of many important ministries today.
And yet there are people who, despite the significance of the mission work, which is not a side-show, but a major work and sacred mission, do not hesitate, at times, to ask, how is it possible, in an advanced country like Sweden, to talk about Missionary work, and, speaking in a derogatory manner, they say to me: “Stop talking about Mission, already”.

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