Norwegian Saga: The Conversion of Janne Haaland Matlary

New Book by a Former Foreign-Affairs Official

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ROME, MAY 3, 2004 ( Janne Haaland Matlary, the second Catholic woman since the Reformation to hold a high post in the Norwegian government, tells the story of her conversion in a new book.

Entitled «A Love Story» («Una Scelta d’Amore,» Leonardo International Publishers), Matlary, a professor of international politics at the University of Oslo and member of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, offers a spiritual autobiography focused on the moment she embraced Catholicism at age 20.

The one-time Norwegian state secretary for foreign affairs has gone from feminism, to political activity, to social and political commitment, to become a wife and mother of four.

In the book’s preface, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, writes that «thanks to this book it is possible, so to speak, to learn again the meaning of being Catholics.»

The conversion of the young Norwegian woman began with a philosophic search for an objective principle. This is why she gives so much importance to the natural law in her studies and teaching.

Commenting on the book, which was presented in Rome last week, Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro-Valls said that it has «an extraordinary value.»

In statements on Vatican Radio, Navarro-Valls added that the book makes very clear how «genuine conversion must be effected every day. The author explains how in her life there is always the need for continuous conversion. Therefore, she puts forth the idea that a Christian life is not a conquest that has been achieved, but a conquest that takes place every day.»

Matlary emphasized this same idea in an interview on Vatican Radio.

«The choice of love now is, without a doubt, a deepening in my past choice and it is an increasingly complex process,» she said. «Without a doubt, the way is that of Christ. I would say that it is an existential journey.»

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