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Porvoo Communion

13 July 2012

AMONG the ecumenical guests welcomed at the General Synod last Friday was the Archbishop of Turku & Finland, the Rt Revd Kari Mäkinen, who was invited to address the Synod from the platform.

The Archbishop described some of the "common questions", arising from "great social and cultural change", faced by Churches in the Porvoo Communion. Recognition of this commonality could lead to "deeper unity", even if Churches reached different conclusions.

In Finland, the "privatisation of religion" was under way, seen in a "growing tendency to regard religion and the Church primarily as something belonging to the private sphere of life", he said. The public sphere had become "ever more dominated by the economy and market values", and even the Church was regarded as a "provider", and its members as "customers". This was a trend for the Church to resist.

The Archbishop noted that issues that had been "silenced, hidden, or otherwise difficult to face", such as homosexuality, gender equality, or child abuse, had been given voice in Finland, revealing "inevitable diversity" in the Church - a "hard process".

From the perspective of the Porvoo Communion, the Archbishop expressed a hope that the unity of the Churches might "deepen", so that a "mutually accepted episcopate" might cover "the whole of bishops" in the "not too distant future", and member Churches would be able to send bishops to each other to conduct the laying on of hands. The unique context of the Church of England was, however, to be respected.

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