by Fr. John Dear, S.J.
Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace
It’s cold and snowy here in Oslo, Norway, but it’s thrilling to be here. My friend Martin Sheen and I flew from Los Angeles to Oslo last week to speak at the conference of The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, where we appeared together Saturday night on stage before an energized crowd of 900 people in downtown Oslo. This civic forum on nuclear weapons preceded the global gathering of representatives from more than 130 nations invited here by the government of Norway to discuss the abolition of nuclear weapons. (The U.S. and Britain did not attend.) That formal international gathering began Monday. As far as we can tell, there has never been such a conference before. It’s a real sign of hope for the world, and we congratulated the Norwegian government for taking such strong leadership to promote disarmament.
Norway is perhaps the most expensive country in the world, but with its majestic fjords, it’s also one of the most beautiful. Having met so many wonderful Norwegians, we can also say they are some of the world’s greatest peacemakers.
As I told the crowd, coming here fulfills a lifelong dream. I’m part Norwegian. My beloved grandmother Besta grew up speaking Norwegian and told me many tales of her parents’ lives in Norway. They journeyed from Bergen to North Dakota in the late 1890s, where they helped build a church and a little village around it. Besta passed on to me a hearty respect for life, the outdoors and adventure. Being here in Norway feels like coming home.…