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Finland’s Catholic Bishop Warns of Rift with Lutherans over Gay Marriage

Teemu Sippo, Finland's Catholic Bishop, says the issue of gay marriage will strain relations between Finland’s Catholic Church and the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Suomen katolisen kirkon piispa Teemu Sippo Image: YLE

Sippo says he is concerned that Finland will follow the example of Sweden's Lutheran Church, which is poised to perform religious ceremonies for same-sex couples.

Sippo, whose church is known for its conservatism, says marriage is a sacrament and not just an administrative issue.

“The Catholic Church cannot bless same-sex couples. It doesn’t view it as morally acceptable,” says Sippo. "Everything that happens in Sweden usually reaches Finland sooner or later.”

That said, Sippo also lashes out at the custom of Helsinki city and other organisations to distribute free condoms to youths.

“Handing out condoms is like telling people to use them. I believe youths should instead be encouraged to practice abstinence,” adds Sippo.

Teemu Sippo was ordained as the new Roman Catholic Bishop of the Catholic Church in Finland at Turku Cathedral last month. Teemu Sippo, aged 62, is the first Finnish-born Catholic Bishop since the Reformation.

Finland is home to only some 10,000 Catholics. The whole country forms one single diocese.