JERUSALEM, 5 October 2011 – Bishop Munib Younan was pleased to be present in Trondheim, Norway this past weekend for the installation of Bishop Helga Haugland Byfuglien as Presiding Bishop of the Church of Norway Bishops’ Conference.
In his words of greeting to Haugland Byfuglien, Younan spoke of the newly-installed Bishop’s passionate commitment to justice: “When you speak of justice we are touched, because your engagement is driven by love, even on difficult issues.”
Younan, bishop of the ELCJHL, has known Haugland Byfuglien since she became Bishop of Borg diocese in 2005. The Borg diocese is a partner diocese of the ELCJHL, and in his words of greeting Younan recalled “I quickly came to appreciate you as a sister that one can trust and confide in. So no wonder, then, that your fellow bishops would unanimously elect you to be their candidate for Presiding Bishop.”
Younan, who also serves as president of the Lutheran World Federation, also noted with great appreciation Haugland Byfuglien’s service as Nordic vice president for the LWF and their opportunities to further their relations there.
Haugland Byfuglien’s installation took place only two and a half months after the shocking attack on Norway, and Younan expressed the solidarity of the Lutheran world communion with the people of Norway and the religious communities of Norway. “We have prayed, and we shall still pray, for the victims of this horrendous attack.”
Younan continued, “We are your allies in combating – with peaceful means – any kind of incitement or hatred that some circles are trying to promote. We are your allies for a culture of mutual understanding and we oppose all culture of anti-Semitism, islamophobia, christianophobia and xenophobia that exist in our world. We look forward to continued cooperation with the Church of Norway on these values because the Church of Norway has carried these values to the world.”
Younan also expressed his admiration to how the Church of Norway ministered to all, saying “we in the outside world admired the way in which the church became a church of the suffering and gave pastoral care both to those who belong to the church and those who do not.”
Younan also expressed admiration for the way in which the King, the Prime Minister, and the Government of Norway cared for the situation.
In celebration of the day Younan presented Haugland Byfuglien with a Jerusalem cross from the ELCJHL as “a token of [the ELCJHL’s] prayer that the cross of Christ may be your comfort and strength.” Younan also asked Haugland Byfuglien, as she wears the cross, to “remember us in the Middle East with your prayer that justice will soon prevail.”