LWF President Bishop Younan Awarded Honorary Doctorate for Peace Work

Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan. Photo: LWF/M. Renaux
Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan. Photo: LWF/M. Renaux

LWF President Bishop Younan Awarded Honorary Doctorate for Peace Work

(LWI) - Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) has been awarded an honorary doctorate degree by the University of Münster in recognition of his dedication to building peace and justice in the region through ecumenical and interreligious dialogue.

Younan, who is also President of the Lutheran World Federation, “acts as an evangelical theologian and as a reconciling, bridge-builder between both religions and ethnic groups in a very conflict-laden area,” the university’s Protestant Theological Faculty said in a statement.  “He lives and practices his evangelical perspectives in a very meaningful way, through forgiveness and reconciliation.” 

“In these past weeks, it has been brought to our attention again and again that we are faced with the fact that certain forces want to transform the political conflict within Israel and Palestine into a religious conflict,” Younan said in a speech accepting the award.  “In the name of religion, these forces are working to change the status quo of many different arrangements and relationships in this city of two peoples—Palestinians and Israelis—and three faiths—Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.”

Earlier this month, Younan and other Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders from the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land condemned increased violence around the Al Aqsa Mosque site in the Old City and called for “the integrity and status of each holy place to be respected.”  On Tuesday five Israelis were killed and eight more wounded in an attack by two Palestinian men on Jewish worshippers praying at a Jerusalem synagogue.

 “We have a choice. We can let those who would carve the world into false dichotomies—of us and them, good and evil-doers, tax collectors and the righteous—define our world and how we engage it,” Younan said. “Or we can resist xenophobia and exclusion, allowing our minds to be transformed by God’s embrace. Instead of instilling a fear of the other that promotes anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, or Christianophobia, we can instead see others as imago Dei— persons created in the image of God.”

“For the vision of reconciliation, based on justice to be achieved throughout the Middle East, it must first be achieved among Israelis and Palestinians. To achieve this goal, we must hold both religious and political leaders to account, drawing them away from the temptations of religiously-sanctioned political extremism toward the promised fruits of coexistence and hope,” Younan said.

What happened to the wall in Berlin is “a sign of hope for us in the Holy Land. It is my hope that the concrete and steel used to build walls today will soon be used by Palestinian and Israeli children to build bridges of understanding, justice, and reconciliation,” he added.