A RABBI was asked: "When can we know it is dawn? Is it when
we can tell a fox from a dog? Or a tree from a post?"
"No," the Rabbi said. "It is when I can look at my neighbour's
face, and see God in his or her eyes."
This story was told at the start of a three-day course in
Norrköping, Sweden, the fruit of 11 years of Porvoo engagement on
interfaith issues. In 2003, in Oslo, 12 issues had been highlighted
as vital for interfaith work in Europe, and these were reaffirmed
in Gothenburg in 2011.
They comprise: building long-term trust; speaking truthfully
about the other; sharing our faith; coming together before God;
responding to changing societies; educating and nurturing in the
faith; supporting family life; working for the common good;
involving women and men; engaging with the media and the internet;
safeguarding the freedom to believe; and changing religious
Altogether, there were 35 participants from two Swedish
dioceses, Strängnäs and Linköping, and from their link dioceses in
the Church of England.
One participant, the Bishop of Bedford, the Rt Revd Richard
Atkinson, said: "Learning from each other was not just a nice
title, but very much the spirit of our time together. It was a very
rich Porvoo encounter."
The course included a visit to refugees from Syria and Iraq, a
novel experience for the UK participants. Few refugees have been
admitted to Britain; many thousands have to Sweden.