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Church Leaders Embark on Sea Cruise to Highlight Ecological Problems

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Jun 3, 2003

Stockholm, 3 June (ENI)--European church leaders are to set sail this month for a four-day cruise off the Norwegian coast to focus attention on the environmental dangers facing the North Sea.

Led by Patriarch Bartholomeos I, spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, who is sometimes nicknamed the Green Patriarch because of his commitment to environmental causes, the 60 participants are scheduled to start the cruise on June 22.

"Through this initiative, we wish to show that the churches are concerned with the sea as a resource to us and to generations to come," said the organiser of the trip, the Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit of the (Lutheran) Church of Norway, in a press release.

Church leaders from countries bordering the North Sea - England, Scotland, Ireland, Iceland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway - have also been invited to come aboard.

Norway's environment minister will join the cruise for part of the journey, which begins in Egersund, in southern Norway, and ends in Alesund, in the west of the country, on June 25.

On the way, participants will disembark at Utstein Monastery, near Stavanger, for a seminar on environmental policy to be attended by Norway's minister of petroleum and energy, and at Bergen for a meeting on pollution of the oceans and fishing policy.

The cruise is being organized by the Church of Norway to coincide with the assembly of the Conference of European Churches, which opens in the northern Norwegian city of Trondheim on June 25..

The church said it had been inspired to organize the cruise by Patriarch Bartholomeos, who has already hosted a number of environmental cruises, including one on the Danube in 1999 and one on the Adriatic Sea in 2002. From June 1 through 10, the patriarch will take part in another cruise, this one on the Baltic Sea.

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