A year ago, just before the pandemic started reaping big changes, the five churches of Bergen Cathedral Congregation joined the CCN, our first partner in Norway. Here they give us their perspectives on nearly a year of Covid-19.
I suppose everyone in Norway is tired of Covid, and wants to speed up the vaccination program. “Why do we have to queue up with EU? We have money enough to buy vaccination ourselves,” “Vaccination nationalism” has been increasing during the past month, and not only in Norway, I understand. It’s as dangerous as any other form of nationalism, and something we as churches must stand up against.
Norway is a remote country, sparsely populated with people who normally trust both each other and the government. That has given us a much lighter burden to carry through the pandemic than most other countries. Schools and universities have been closed periodically. So have shops and restaurants. Organized sports and other leisure activities has also been closed. But we have not had any massive outbreaks of Covid. A few hundred new cases are detected every day, but the total of Covid-19 victims in hospital care has never exceeded 200 for the whole country. And we’ve had fewer than 600 reported deaths until now.
Knowing this, many people ask; “Why do the churches have to be closed? Why can we visit the shopping mall, but not our church? “We have to answer that although not every restriction seems logical, there is a reason for it. Outbreaks of Covid have not happened more than once in a church, but have done several times in the houses of other religions. It may not be fair, but we must accept the restrictions in solidarity with our friends from other denominations and religions, and stand together to fight the pandemic.
The same solidarity must be shown when it comes to vaccination. The restrictions I’m tired of, will not be lifted just because I am vaccinated. Not because my family, my friends, and all the people I normally meet are either. To get back to a more normal life it doesn’t help if “Norway (or any other country) comes first”. It doesn’t help if our trade partners, and the countries we want to travel to, or have visitors from, still must keep harsh restrictions. The most important lesson the pandemic has given us, is how much we depend on each other: friends, neighbours, countries.
For me, this is an example of what CCN is about; Solidarity. Praying and caring for each other. And hopes for a better future. “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6.2)
Hans Jørgen Morvik
Rector of Bergen Cathedral Congregation