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USF Welcomes Norwegian Prime Minister

09-28-2009
BondevikWeb

USF awards honorary doctorate to former Norway Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik.

The University of San Francisco recognized the life’s work of Kjell Magne Bondevik, twice the prime minister of Norway and the founding president of the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights, by awarding him an honorary degree Sept. 30.

The degree was presented at St. Ignatius Church, as part of the Mass of the Holy Spirit. Later, Bondevik spoke at USF’s Justice Lecture Series, sponsored by University Ministry and the Joan and Ralph Lane Center for Catholic Studies and Social Thought, in Presentation Theater.

Bondevik, a Lutheran minister who was prime minister from 1997-2005, is known for increasing programs in health care and education, appointing a large number of women to cabinet posts, protecting the environment, and pledging humanitarian aid to war-ravaged Iraq.

In 2006, he founded the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights  to promote international human rights activities, world peace, religious tolerance, and democracy. As the founding and current president of the Oslo Center, he has spoken forcefully about human rights violations in Burma, traveled to China to encourage government officials there to make strides in influencing the Burmese Junta, and discussed drawing Iran out of isolation by engaging its leaders in dialogue.

Bondevik also served as the United Nations Secretary General's Special Envoy to the Horn of Africa where he spearheaded efforts to address drought, food shortages, and promote political stability.
 
“Love for my neighbor is the strongest power that any political decision maker can yield anywhere in the world,” said Bondevik, whose political views and commitment to public service are informed by his theological beliefs.

In 1998, Bondevik contributed to efforts to demystify and destigmatize mental illness, becoming the first world leader to publicly announce that he was taking a four-week leave of absence to be treated for depression. After returning to work, he received thousands of letters from Norwegian citizens praising him for his courage in addressing his illness publicly, many saying that it gave them the strength to seek help and to begin their own recovery.

Addressing the British Parliament last year, Bondevik encouraged lawmakers to change archaic mental illness laws in England and noted that mental illness should be no more mysterious than a physical illness and that it was possible to recover, as he had done.

To see video of the Mass of the Holy Spirit and honorary degree presentation visit: www.usfca.edu/stream/bondevik/ 

To see video of Bondevik's speech at the Justice Lecture Series visit: www.usfca.edu/stream/bondevik/bondevik_jls.html 

Written by Edward Carpenter »usfnews@usfca.edu