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Migration and Multiculturality from the point of view of religious leaders in the Catholic Church in Norway

This report presents some of the findings of the interviews being done by local religious leaders in the Catholic Church in Norway and it's the result of a qualitative study.

The growing number of members is slowly changing the position of the Catholic Church in the society in Norway. The rapid growth is due to the expansion of EU (many people are coming from new member countries from East Europe) and from all parts of Europe being marked by the financial crisis in Europe.

The religious leaders and teachers (both men and women) being interviewed are parish priests, people from religious orders and staff being faced with a multicultural context. Most of them are coming from other countries, they speak different languages and are familiar with different cultures. The interviews were done in Norwegian, but the majority of those being interviewed has another mother tongue, like Polish, German, French, Vietnamese, Tamil etc. being familiar with different cultures in Europe, Asia and Africa.

The pursued objective was to determine the role (and thereby also the conception) of the local church in the opinion of the respondent and to get an overview of what kind of social issues the respondents are involved in.

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Helene Lund

MF - Norwegian School of Theology




Majority church and migration: a Norwegian case study

International migration - voluntary or forced - is often discussed in terms of the push and pull factors that force or motivate people to uproot from their homes and resettle elsewhere. Common push factors are economic insecurity, political instability, persecution, conflict or war and in this perspective migration is an attempt to escape from difficult living conditions, social problems or perceived injustice. Pull factors are the opposite: opportunities in terms of economic security, education, political stability, fre edom or relative peace. But migrating not only solves problems. Settling in a new place represents challenges both for the migrant and for the countries and communities they settle into. Governments are called to make policies on immigration and integration, as well as on illegal or undocumented migration. Similarly, civil society organisations, community groups and individuals are challenged morally and practically. How should they respond when strangers knock on the doors of their homes or present themselves at national borders? How should they handle political conflicts related to socio-economic insecurity and cultural and religious differences? In the following the Church of Norway’s response to international migration will be examined, as this is expressed in official church documents and public statements made by representatives of the church.

The Church of Norway’s responses to the immigrant Roma community in Norway and to current refugee and asylum policies will be highlighted.

Using the concepts of nationalism, cosmopolitanism and social capital as analytical tools it will be discussed the implied church-state relations in these responses. The article starts giving a more detailed presentation of Norway and the country’s experience with migration and the role and position of the Church of Norway in Norwegian society. Then the relevant theoretical perspectives will be introduced before the analysis of the various church responses to international migration...

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Kjetil Fretheim

MF Norwegian School of Theology