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Norwegian Bishops Appeal to Church of England over Radioactive Waste: "Let Life in the Oceans Continue"


OSLO, Norway/GENEVA, 11 June 2002 (LWI) - Church of Norway bishops have sent a strong appeal for the protection of the environment to the Church of England. The Sellafield Declaration addresses the threat to seas and shores by radioactive waste from the nuclear fuel reprocessing plant at Sellafield, northern England.

Through the appeal, the Norwegian church leaders are calling on British authorities to " take all necessary steps to bring an end to the life-threatening pollution as soon as possible."

A Church of Norway press statement says the declaration, handed over on May 29 to the Church of England in London, originates from the local communities and congregations along the Norwegian coast. On its way down the coast from Kirkenes to Bergen, the document was signed by bishops of the five dioceses bordering the North Sea. The country's six other bishops sent their letters of support.

The Norwegians are urging their sister church on the other side of the North Sea to follow-up on the matter with the British government. Both churches are signatories to the 1996 Porvoo Common Statement between the British and Irish Anglican churches and most of the Nordic and Baltic Lutheran churches.

Under the Nordic Council, Scandinavian governments have criticized British authorities over Sellafield, saying the facility posed a threat to the health of the Irish and North Seas and the Atlantic Ocean.

In their appeal titled "Let Life in the Oceans Continue," Norway's bishops say the existence of a majority of their coastal communities is "inextricably bound to the sea. ... If the resources of the sea become polluted the very existence of the coastal people of our land--and of other lands--will be torn apart." They stress that pollution created by radioactive waste can cause irreparable damage for future generations.

In a covering letter the Norwegian bishops say: "We see our initiative as one way of deepening the Porvoo communion as it continuously invites us to share resources and concerns as we are involved in service and witness to our societies and the powers [to] be."

The 3.8 million-member Church of Norway to which 86 percent of the population belong, has been a member of the Lutheran World Federation since 1947.

[The LWF is a global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran tradition. Founded in 1947 in Lund (Sweden), the LWF now has 133 member churches in 73 countries representing over 60.5 million of the 64.3 million Lutherans worldwide. Lutheran World Information (LWI) is the information service of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF). Unless specifically noted, material presented does not represent positions or opinions of the LWF or of its various units. Where the dateline of an article contains the notation (LWI), the material may be freely reproduced with acknowledgment.]

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[NOTE: For a resource titled "Earth and Faith: A Book of Reflection for Action," published by the United Nations Environment Program and the Interfaith Partnership for the Environment, visit: UNEP]

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