LWF Concerned about Attempt to Violate Freedom of Religion in Malaysia

LWF Council member Philip Lok, Lutheran Church in Malaysia and Singapore. Photo: LWF/H. Putsman-Penet
LWF Council member Philip Lok, Lutheran Church in Malaysia and Singapore. Photo: LWF/H. Putsman-Penet
LWF Council member Philip Lok, Lutheran Church in Malaysia and Singapore. Photo: LWF/H. Putsman-Penet

Court Rules That Christian Publication May Not Use “Allah” Name

(LWI) – The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has expressed deep concern over a Court of Appeal ruling in Malaysia, forbidding a Roman Catholic publication from using the Malay-language word “Allah” for God.

In a 5 November letter to LWF member church leaders in Malaysia, LWF President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan, and General Secretary Rev. Martin Junge called the ruling an attempt to suppress freedom of religion and expression in Malaysia that could lead to confusion, resentment and discord.

“This ruling … goes against the centuries-old, well-accepted use of the word ‘Allah’ by Arab Christians in the Middle East and other parts of the world; violates the freedom of religion and freedom of expression of Christians in Malaysia; and threatens to create unnecessary division and discord between Christians and Muslims in Malaysia,” they said.

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LWF Delegation Meets Pope Francis

The Pope received a refugee’s teapot as an invitation to work together for the suffering neighbor. Photo: Osservatore Romano
The Pope received a refugee’s teapot as an invitation to work together for the suffering neighbor. Photo: Osservatore Romano
The Pope received a refugee’s teapot as an invitation to work together for the suffering neighbor. Photo: Osservatore Romano

(LWI) – During an audience with Pope Francis at the Vatican earlier today, leaders from The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) expressed gratitude for the partnership with the Roman Catholic Church that makes it possible for churches to strengthen their commitment to the poor and vulnerable.

“As people who have been encountered by Christ, we are called to accompany the poor and vulnerable. The message of reconciliation entrusted to us turns into the hope for our fragmented world and its yearning for peace with justice,” LWF President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan said in LWF’s greeting to the pope.

Younan expressed gratitude for the ecumenical milestones of the partnership with Catholics, including the recent publication of the report “From Conflict to Communion: Lutheran-Catholic Common Commemoration in 2017.”

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LWF President Younan Lauds Australian Lutheran Church Schools

LWF President Bishop Younan meets LCA Bishop John Henderson. Photo: LCA/Rosie Schefe
LWF President Bishop Younan meets LCA Bishop John Henderson. Photo: LCA/Rosie Schefe
LWF President Bishop Younan meets LCA Bishop John Henderson. Photo: LCA/Rosie Schefe

(LWI) – Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan, President of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF), has told Lutheran educators from across Australia that education can act as an instrument for peace and understanding among diverse communities.
“Education gives us the tools to transform the world,” Younan told 1,000 delegates at the Australian Conference on Lutheran Education (ACLE) on 30 September in Brisbane.

In his keynote address, “The Truth Shall Set You Free: The Transformative Power of Education in the Middle East,” Younan, head of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL), praised the Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA) for its witness through education.

“Education is more than learning sums or proper grammar. Education is the light casting out the darkness; it is love casting out fear; it is strength casting out weakness,” the LWF president emphasized. “We are shaping young minds for a future where peaceful coexistence is possible and human dignity is upheld,” he added.

“Wise Up! Transforming Mind, Body and Heart in Lutheran Education,” was the theme of the 30 September – 2 October ACLE conference, held every four years. The gathering brings together educators from across Australia’s Lutheran schools.

Speaking about the goal of ELCJHL’s schools and educational programs, Younan emphasized that the system is vital as it teaches the Evangelical ethos in a Palestinian context. This includes molding a Palestinian, Christian and Lutheran identity among the youth, and teaching them to live with people of other faiths, especially Islam and Judaism.

“Our evangelical mission is to convert our students from extremism to moderation in a Middle East that is drowning in extremism,” he said of the four ELCJHL schools that serve 3,000 students drawn from both the Christian and Muslim communities.
In the schools, students learn that mutual regard and respect for others is a foundation of peaceful existence, something that gives Middle East communities hope, Younan added.

Hope and Compassion

The Palestinian bishop said that many in the Middle East have given up hope for peace and can only see a future with violence and vengeance. The ELCJHL’s schools offer a different path. “Through education and dialogue, we transmute cultures of fear into cultures of hope and compassion.”

Younan, who was recently awarded the Al-Hussein Decoration for Distinguished Service from the King of Jordan for promoting peace among Christians and Muslims in the Middle East, said transformative education and interfaith dialogue are needed to combat the extremism that is found in Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

To learn more about what Bishop Younan said in his speech to Australian educators, you can visit the Lutheran World Federation website.

LWF President Munib Younan Meets with Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby

Archbishop Justin Welby and LWF President Bishop Munib Younan
LWF President Younan (right) receives Archbishop of Canterbury Welby in Jerusalem. (© Danae Hudson/ELCJHL)

(LWI) Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) welcomed the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby to Jerusalem during the Archbishop’s visit to the Holy Land, 26-29 June.

This was Welby’s first official visit to the region since his installation earlier this year as the Primate of All England and spiritual leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion.
“The Archbishop and I discussed at great length our commitment to justice, peace and security for both Palestine and Israel, and the necessity of a two-state solution along 1967 borders,” said Younan of their 28 June meeting at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem.

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LWF: Joint Lutheran-Catholic Publication on Reformation Launched

PCPCU President Kurt Cardinal Koch
PCPCU President Kurt Cardinal Koch reflects on “From Conflict to Communion.” © LWF/S. Gallay

Cardinal Koch: Keynote Address to LWF Council

(LWI) Presenting the keynote address to the Council of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) today, Kurt Cardinal Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU), reflected on the joint Lutheran-Roman Catholic publication, “From Conflict to Communion,” which was launched during the meeting of the LWF governing body.

Koch expressed his strong hope that the document will be mutually received by Lutherans and Catholics at global and local levels.

“From Conflict to Communion: Lutheran-Catholic Common Commemoration in 2017,” has been published by the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Commission on Unity in the context of the commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, and the 50th anniversary of dialogue between Lutherans and Catholics in 2017. It builds on important ecumenical milestones especially the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification (JDDJ).

In his address to the LWF governing body, the PCPCU president reflected on the opportunities that a common Lutheran-Catholic commemoration of the 500th anniversary would offer; the need to listen to one another about the meaning of the commemoration for both sides; rediscovering what Lutherans and Catholics have in common by having the courage to address the conflicts in the Reformation history; and the significance of the current document for the further dialogue process.

Koch said that the decision by the Lutheran – Roman Catholic Commission on Unity to follow up their dialogue process on the topic of baptism under the working title ‘Baptism and Growing in Communion,” was much to be welcomed, as it represents a further important step on the path of deepening understanding between Lutherans and Catholics. He also proposed that this would open a possibility for the preparation of a future joint declaration on church, Eucharist and ministry.

“The true success of the Reformation can only be achieved through the overcoming of our inherited divisions in a renewed Church consisting of all Christians, and that consequently our ecumenical efforts aimed at recovering unity are actually a completion of the work of the Reformation itself,” Koch said.

Questions about Eucharistic Hospitality

Responding to Cardinal Koch’s address, LWF President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan noted that local relationships with Catholics take different shapes in the respective regions and the LWF member churches. “It is my sense that this document can be an important tool in improving relationships and, more importantly, common witness, in all contexts.”

In a plenary discussion following the presentation of “Conflict to Communion” LWF Council members welcomed the publishing of the publication at the global dialogue level, but also expressed hope for its practical reception and relevance at the grassroots.

To read more, visit the Lutheran World Federation’s website.

LWF President Endorses Faith Leaders’ Historic Affirmations to “Welcome the Stranger”

LWF President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan
(middle) LWF President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan at the launch of “Welcoming the Stranger” © UNHCR

UNHCR Initiative Supports Refugees’ Protection and Promotes Interreligious Cooperation

(LWI) – The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan has endorsed a historic code of conduct declaration that calls for faith leaders, faith-based organizations and communities to enhance efforts to embrace and support millions of refugees, internally displaced and stateless people, and to stand united against xenophobia.

“I fully endorse the ‘Welcoming the Stranger: Affirmations for Faith Leaders’” Younan told over 150 participants including religious leaders, diplomats and representatives from 25 faith based non-governmental organizations (NGOs) at the 12 June “Affirmations” document launch, hosted by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Geneva, Switzerland.

The declaration is the culmination of a High Commissioner’s Dialogue on Faith and Protection convened last December by UNHCR chief, Mr António Guterres, and attended by representatives of major faith groups and academics. It concluded with a recommendation for the development of a code of conduct for faith leaders, initially suggested by the LWF president and subsequently backed by all participants,

This was followed up with the drafting of the “Affirmations” between February and April by a coalition of faith-based organizations and academic institutions which included, among others, the LWF, Jesuit Refugee Service, Islamic Relief Worldwide, the World Council of Churches, and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society.

The text of the declaration draws upon principles and values of welcome that are deeply rooted in all major religions including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism. It is expected to be used worldwide to foster support for refugees and other people displaced in their communities.

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LWF President Younan Says Arms Trade Treaty Is an Important Tool for Non-Violent Conflict Resolution

LWF President, Bishop Munib A. Younan © ELCH/Zsuzsanna Horváth-Bolla
LWF President, Bishop Munib A. Younan © ELCH/Zsuzsanna Horváth-Bolla

GENEVA, 12 April 2013 (LWI) – The first-ever global Arms Trade Treaty will be an important tool for peaceful and non-violent resolution of conflicts, with justice and respect for the dignity and rights of every person, says Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan, President of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF).

In a statement today welcoming the adoption of the Arms Trade Treaty by the United Nations General Assembly on 2 April, Younan emphasized, “Our world needs more justice and human rights, not more guns. The Arms Trade Treaty will help make that possible.”

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LWF President Bishop Younan Congratulates Newly Elected Pope Francis I

Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, newly-elected Pope of the Roman Catholic Church © Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk under Creative Commons licence non-commercial share-alike (CC-NC-SA), via Flickr
Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, newly-elected Pope of the Roman Catholic Church © Mazur/catholicnews.org.uk under Creative Commons licence non-commercial share-alike (CC-NC-SA), via Flickr

GENEVA, 14 March 2013 (LWI) – The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has greeted the newly elected leader of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, on his first day in office, expressing the Lutheran Communion’s joy for Catholics and urging continued dialogue with Lutherans.

The Roman Catholic College of Cardinals elected Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio on the evening of 13 March at the Vatican. The 76-year-old pontiff becomes the first head of the Roman Catholic from the global South.

“You have been elected to serve the Church at a time when Lutherans and Catholics are growing in mutual understanding and joint witness not only at the local level but also at a global level,” said the LWF President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan and General Secretary Rev. Martin Junge in a letter today addressed to the new pontiff.

To read the rest of the article, visit the LWF website here.

A Christmas Message from Bishop Younan, President LWF

A Christmas greeting from the LWF President, December 2012

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ.

Christmas greetings to you in the seven regions of the LWF from Jerusalem, the city of our Lord’s death and resurrection. Although long known as the city of peace, Jerusalem has been afflicted with centuries of conflict. Today, the people of Jerusalem join in the laments of too many other places torn by strife.

The hope of Christmas is the same now as it was over two thousand years ago: that God was in Christ reconciling the world to God’s own self. Reconciliation was present in that humble cave in Bethlehem, and reconciliation is God’s message and gift to us today. As Isaiah writes,

For you have been a refuge to the poor,
a refuge to the needy in their distress,
a shelter from the rainstorm
and a shade from the heat.
(Isaiah 25:4 NRSV)

As a global communion, we know well the human costs of disasters, conflicts, and wars. The LWF was founded in 1947 to respond to the needs of refugees in Europe after the Second World War. Among our many forms of shared ministry, we have retained a focus on accompanying refugees.

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Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter leads delegation on visit to the Lutheran World Federation in Jerusalem

Dr. Tawfiq Nasser speaks with President Jimmy. Photo by Anna Johnson, LWF

A delegation from the group “The Elders” visited the Lutheran World Federation campus and Augusta Victoria Hospital on October 22, 2012. The delegation was led by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and included former President of Ireland and former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson as well as former Prime Minister of Norway and former Director-General of the World Health Organization Gro Harlem Brundtland.

Dr. Tawfiq Nasser, CEO of Augusta Victoria Hospital (AVH), and Rev. Mark Brown, the Regional Representative of the Lutheran World Federation in Jerusalem and the Middle East, received the guests and spoke about the work of the Lutheran World Federation in areas of education and health, as well as the issues of access to healthcare facing Palestinians.

To read the full story, click here.