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Note #3237 from FRANK IMHOFF to LWI ENGLISH (www.ecunet.org)

Norwegian Lutheran Theologian Converted to Catholicism Quits Teaching Position

Professor Ola Tjørhom Asserts Commitment to Visible Unity of the Church


GENEVA, 18 February 2005 (LWI) - A former Lutheran professor at the Institute for Ecumenical Research in Strasbourg, France, who converted to the Roman Catholic tradition has resigned from his current position as chairperson of dogmatics at the Lutheran School of Mission and Theology in Stavanger, Norway.

After his conversion two years ago, Ola Tjørhom, 51, was allowed to continue as professor of systematic theology and ecumenical theology at Stravanger. However, the faculty leadership later on decided that he should be moved to a more neutral field, namely theory of science.

Tjørhom's decision to become Roman Catholic in January 2003, drew considerable attention not only in Norwegian media, but also in ecumenical circles. As a prominent Church of Norway representative, he was instrumental in ecumenical developments at both regional and international levels, and participated in the process that led to the Porvoo Common Statement. Tjørhom was also a Lutheran member of the Anglican-Lutheran International Working Group. (cf. http://www.lutheranworld.org/news/lwi/en/1142.en.html)

Tjørhom resigned from his teaching post in January 2005 as part of a mutual agreement between him and the Lutheran School of Mission and Theology. He says he welcomes the settlement that has been reached, but regrets the difficulty reflected in defining an appropriate teaching area for a Roman Catholic theologian. Theory of science, he says, is an area in which he has no special background.

Tjørhom, who has had leave of absence for the last year, has continued writing and publishing on various topics and will now begin looking for a new teaching post.

"I am fully aware that a conversion is a problematic step, not least in an ecumenical perspective," he remarks. "Yet, my commitment to the goal of the visible unity of the church remains unchanged," he adds. (306 words)


(The LWF is a global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran tradition. Founded in 1947 in Lund, Sweden, the LWF currently has 138 member churches in 77 countries all over the world, with a membership of nearly 66 million Christians. The LWF acts on behalf of its member churches in areas of common interest such as ecumenical and inter-faith relations, theology, humanitarian assistance, human rights, communication, and the various aspects of mission and development work. Its secretariat is located in Geneva, Switzerland.)

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