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Palestinian Lutheran Bishop to Receive 34th Niwano Peace Prize

February 2017

The Niwano Peace Prize International Selection Committee has decided to award the 34th Niwano Peace Prize to Bishop Dr. Munib A. Younan of Palestine, bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land and president of the Lutheran World Federation. The award will honor him for his perseverance and compassion in his work to encourage dialogue between interreligious groups in the Holy Land. On February 20, Dr. Hiroshi M. Niwano, chairperson of the Niwano Peace Foundation, announced the recipient at a news conference at a Kyoto hotel. The presentation ceremony will take place on July 27 in Tokyo. In addition to an award certificate, Bishop Younan will receive a medal and 20 million yen (about $175,000).

Bishop Younan was born into a family of Palestinian refugees in Jerusalem in 1950. He studied theology in Finland and received an MA from the University of Helsinki in 1976. He was ordained in 1976 at the Church of the Redeemer in Jerusalem. Over his long career he has held numerous positions in Lutheran and interfaith organizations, and has used his position to establish a wide-ranging network between religious leaders of different faiths in the Middle East. Bishop Younan was one of the 14 religious leaders who signed the Alexandria Declaration in 2002, a document in which rabbis, sheiks, and bishops pledged their commitment to establishing peace in the Holy Land, which is sacred to all three faiths. His work emphasizes commonality between religions and religious denominations, which is integral in the struggle for peace. In a world where some political leaders emphasize differences and provoke hatred, Bishop Younan has consistently promoted harmony and love. His work emphasizes peace over power and unity over domination.

Every year the Niwano Peace Foundation solicits nominations from people of recognized intellectual and religious stature around the world. In the nomination process, some 600 people and organizations, representing 125 countries and many religions, are asked to propose candidates. Nominees are rigorously screened by the Niwano Peace Prize International Selection Committee, consisting of 10 religious leaders from various parts of the world, all of whom are involved in movements for peace and interreligious cooperation. 

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