Hanshin University in the Republic of Korea has awarded Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) the title of “Doctor honoris causa” for his ecumenical vision on unity, justice and peace.
The Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea and the Board of Directors of Hanshin University took the decision to grant Tveit an honorary doctorate.
The ceremony for the awarding of the honorary doctorate took place on 8 April at the University of Hanshin in Seoul which began as a theology school in 1939.
“To receive this high recognition for the work of the World Council of Churches and my work for unity, justice and peace is a great encouragement,” said Tveit in an address at the ceremony.
“For me it is important to affirm that we work together in this pilgrimage of justice and peace on the solid platform of our last assembly, and that we do so based on theological reflections and studies and accountability to both our Christian traditions and the context in which we live.”
“Awarding this degree to the WCC general secretary is a meaningful way of celebrating the 75th anniversary of Hanshin University’s founding,” said Rev. Dr Sang Chang, WCC President for Asia, in her message of congratulations during the ceremony.
“While it is a sign of encouragement for the work of the WCC, it is also a calling and request of the Korean churches for the WCC to continue its strong accompaniment and support for peace and reconciliation on the Korean peninsula.”
Tveit said he firmly believes that ecumenical work requires a solid theological work and reflection.
“The first message of the risen Christ is, according to the Gospel of Mathews (chapter 28:1-15) is: “Do not be afraid!” It is followed by a clear mandate to the two women at the grave,” he said.
“This is a word of comfort – but it is also a calling to be what God has meant you to be.”
The general secretary added, “Let us together acknowledge that we need to encourage one another to continue responding to the calling we have each one of us and together as one ecumenical movement.”
During the ceremony Tveit was acknowledged for playing an active role in the past two decades in strengthening global church relations, while contributing to churches’ work for the cause of justice and peace.
The WCC general secretary met during the ceremony with representative of the families of the victims who perished along with the parents of children still missing on the ferry Sewol which sank off Korea’s south-west shore last year.
He spoke of their continued struggle for truth and justice as an honourable and holy task preserving the dignity of their lost children and also contributing to a safer and more secure society for all.
Following the event, the family members also took part in a special chapel service ceremony organized by the Association of Women Seminarians at Hanshin University.
Before being appointed as the WCC general secretary in 2009, Tveit previously served as general secretary of the Church of Norway Council on Ecumenical and International Relations, as well as being a member of the WCC’s Faith and Order Plenary Commission and also on the board of directors and executive committee of the Christian Council of Norway.
In 2002, Tveit was awarded a doctorate in theology by the Norwegian School of Theology-Menighetsfakultetet in Oslo for his dissertation on Mutual Accountability as Ecumenical Attitude.