Half of Norwegian bishops are now women

bishop in Oslo Kari VeitebergNewly appointed bishop of Oslo diocesan Kari Veiteberg was met with applause when she met the press in the Crypt in Oslo Cathedral on Thursday morning. Photo: Heiko Junge / NTB scanpix

Half of Norwegian bishops are now women

The church has always been political, says Kari Veiteberg. On December 17, she becomes bishop in Oslo.


– We need to talk about what policy is. It’s about what the good life is, how to live together, how we share our wealth. For me, any conversation about how we live together has a political dimension. But the church is more than politics, it goes through politics and has a prophetic voice, says Veiteberg to NTB.

The day after the Church Council chose her as a bishop succeeding Ole Christian Kvarme, she was welcomed to the Oslo diocese with huge bouquets of flowers and a press conference.

There was drawn a parallel to Pope Francis, “the Pope of the Poor,” and to the 56-year-old street pastor.

Heard to little about the world during the election campaign

As a city missionary priest in Tøyen, Veiteberg has spread God’s word among homeless, drug addicts, prostitutes and Rom people. She says she missed an election campaign that looks beyond Norway.

– I’m experiencing a Europe that is changing. People are walking and traveling a lot more. People who have experienced debt crisis are seeking work, and very many are refugees. For me it is about that I’m lucky. I’m born with a silver spoon in my mouth, says Veiteberg.

– Once upon a time we were fleeing, and now others are on the run. How we can solve the situation together with other countries in Europe and the world, we did not hear much about in my opinion, she says.

She does not want to say so much about what she thinks about the fight for the Christian voters, but says she is keen to “talk people up and forward, not to talk people down”.

– I think it’s incredibly important to talk so people will be more fearless. I think that there is not much to fear. We are going to talk about embolding each other, she says.

Jesus without shame

It was the head of the church council, Kristin Gunleiksrud Raaum, who drew the lines from the Catholic pope Francis, who also speaks for the poor and refugees to the street priest from Tøyen.

– You also talk without shame about Jesus, about the poor, about God and the street, Raaum said.

– I bring the experience of not feeling welcome. There are many who struggle, says Veiteberg about the lessons she learnt at Tøyen.

Preses Helga Haugland Byfuglien welcomes Veiteberg in the bishops collegiate and proudly states that it now half of them are women.

– That is actually a world event, she says.

The process of choosing a new bishop was initiated this spring. Oslo Bishop Council proposed five candidates, which, after a round of votes, were reduced to three: Sturla Stålsett, Anne-May Grasaas and Veiteberg. During the election it became clear that Grasaas were the bishops’ favourite, while the Oslo diocese wished for Veiteberg.

© NTB Scanpix / Norway Today