//CORE Forum’s new chair, Father Heikki Huttunen: “Positive religious freedom is the basis of our advocacy work”

CORE Forum’s new chair, Father Heikki Huttunen: “Positive religious freedom is the basis of our advocacy work”

“There is a noticeable change happening in the relationship between religion, government officials and public space in Finland. This does not mean the loss of the meaning of spirituality and faith, but a change in its expressions. During this shift, the CORE Forum has a very important role as the voice of religious communities in our society”, states the new chair of the CORE Forum, Orthodox priest Father Heikki Huttunen from the Finnish Ecumenical Council. The CORE Forum’s annual meeting elected a new board for the organization on March 1, 2023.

Huttunen views interfaith peace work as the main purpose of the CORE Forum’s work: “The CORE Forum’s most important aim is social peace, which we build through our inter-faith dialogue and in cooperation with the public authorities. A good example of our positive advocacy work is the Finnish authorities’ consideration of religious freedom when enacting the new law on animal welfare.”

During his chairmanship in the CORE Forum, Huttunen hopes for increased cooperation with the state administration regarding our main goals: “We strive to be active when the new government programme will be created after the Finnish parliamentary elections in spring 2023. The basis of our advocacy work is the principle of positive religious freedom. It means equality for all followers of all different religious traditions in our country, and requires good religious literacy.”

The newly-elected chair was involved in founding the CORE Forum during his role as the Secretary General of the Finnish Ecumenical Council. He has been a member of the Human Rights commission of the CORE Forum since 2019. Ecumenism, internationality and youth work form Huttunen’s professional identity. In his career, Huttunen has worked e.g. in the World Council of Churches, as the general secretary of the Conference of European Churches, as a priest for Youth Work, as a priest for Multicultural Work and now as a priest for Russian Work.

Gölten Bedretdin from the Finnish Islamic Congregation, Yvonne Westerlund from the Central Council of Jewish Communities in Finland and Timo Koponen from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were appointed as the vice-chairs of the CORE Forum.

Other board members:

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland:
Laura Huovinen, personal deputy Jyri Komulainen

The Finnish Buddhist Union:
Irma Rinne, personal deputy Huija Lindeberg

Board observer:

Hindu Forum in Finland:
Gurmann Saini, personal deputy Kenneth Kairenius

The CORE Forum is an inter-faith organization representing six religions: Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Latter-day Saints, Buddhism and Hinduism. We promote social peace and religious literacy through interfaith dialogue.

Photo: Kateryna Chyhryn