Younan said the church must oppose extremismImage: AP
July 25, 2010
A Palestinian protestant bishop is the newly elected head of the Lutheran church around the world after a vote in Stuttgart. Bishop Munib Younan has said he will strive for peace in the Middle East.
Palestinian Bishop Munib Younan was elected president of the Lutheran World Federation by 300 votes to 23, a statement on the body's Web site announced on Saturday.
Younan told the Stuttgart assembly that elected him that he hoped that the church help to contribute further to peace in the Middle East.
The church "must continue to focus on shared values in order to oppose extremism and xenophobia, especially anti-Semitism and Islamophobia," said Younan, who is bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land.
"The conflict in my own home is never far from my thoughts," he said. "It is my hope that God will allow Israelis and Palestinians to see the work of God in each other, and reach a political settlement."
The post is the most important in the federation of 145 member churches from 79 countries.
Younan was praised as the "head of a small church that exists under difficult conditions" by the head of Germany's Protestant Church Nikolaus Schneider, referring to the problems faced by Christians in parts of the Middle East.
Head of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany, Bavarian bishop Johannes Friedrich, said that Younan had shown commitment to "peace, justice and reconciliation" in the region.
The 59-year-old Younan was the first cleric to translate the Augsburg Confession, a central text of the church, into Arabic.
Younan succeeds incumbent Bishop Mark S Hanson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, who headed the body since 2003.