Press releases
News archive
Selected books
ARC Home > News and Resources > News archive:

Holy Sites discussed - but as places for Conflict or for Dialogue?

August 12 2008:

The corona aurora over Trondheim. Photo from the Trondheim website:

More than fifty religious leaders from Bosnia, Kosovo, Turkey, Armenia and the Holy Land highlighted concerns over their sacred sites in a major meeting in Trondheim, Norway, at the end of last month.

The meeting’s aim was to come up with a code of conduct for holy sites, and ARC was invited in order to help them to add ecology to the list of concerns, and view their sacred sites as sanctuaries for wildlife to be handed on to future generations. Through ARC it was proposed they should be ‘places of sanctuary for wildlife where faiths can actively demonstrate their commitment to care for the natural environment'. Several participants agreed that this was an important and necessary dimension.

There were other concerns too - many of which were concerned with conflict. Muslims in Bosnia wanted their mosques returned or re-opened, Orthodox Christians in Kosovo wanted their monasteries and churches protected from surrounding Muslims, Christians in Palestine wanted access to their holy places in Israel, Jews and Muslims in the Holy Land wanted agreement for shared access to the Dome of the Rock.

"Grievances were aired, anguish expressed, hopes for future reconciliation voiced. The discussion was mostly about history, politics and issues of management," reports ARC's representative, Hindu commentator Ranchor Prime.

St Olav, the Patron Saint of Trondheim. Photo from the Trondheim website:
They were hosted by the City of Trondheim and the Church of Norway at the magnificent festival of Saint Olav, Patron Saint of Norway, and welcomed into the historic Trondheim Cathedral, pilgrim place for devotees of St Olav from all over Northern Europe.

Sponsored by the Oslo Center for Peace and Human Rights in association with One World in Dialogue (a Trondheim Alliance of Christians with their local Turkish community), it was one of a dozen peace initiatives supported by the Oslo Center. The leader of the Centre, former Prime Minister Bondevik, is an Ordained Minister in the Church of Norway, and he pledged to see that ecology would be added to the discussions.

He was interested to hear about proposals to be tabled at the Barcelona World Conservation Congress, where holy sites are to be recognised as important places for conservation of nature.

The conference took place in Trondheim, Norway, on 26-28 July 2008.


** Link here for more details about ARC's Theology of Land project.

** Link here for general information about the IUCN World Conservation Congress taking place in Barcelona in October 2008.

** Link for more information about Norway at

< previous 
ARC site map
Related pages

What makes a place sacred?
Think about the places in your area that make you feel happy or at peace. Are they enjoyed by other people? Could they be? Are they places that enhance nature? Or could they be made more beautiful? If you have no such places, then think about creating one.
Projects overview
A complete listing of all current ARC projects