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Lynge, Finn

lyngefApril 4, 2014
Qaqortoq Greenland

Finn Lynge, elected Minister of the European Parliament for Greenland 1979 to 1985, died of heart failure at home in Greenland on Friday, April 4, 2014.

Finn was born on April 22, 1933 in Nuuk, the son of a Danish mother and Greenlandic father. When he was a youth, his family moved to Copenhagen where he attended secondary school and the University of Copenhagen, studying French and Danish. At the age of 19, he converted to the Catholic version of Christianity. Five years later, he joined the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate with a vision of returning to his native Greenland to serve as a priest. He is the only native of his country to become a Catholic priest since the Reformation. He spent one year in France for his novitiate, 3 years in Rome to study philosophy, and 4 years in the United States to study theology (Pass Christian, MS with the OMIs.)

He was ordained a priest in 1963. He spent one year in Minneapolis to gain pastoral experience at the Church of the Assumption, and at that time served as chaplain to the Poor Clare community. He spent another year serving as a parish priest in Randers, Denmark. Then in 1965, he went to Greenland, where he guided the building of the only Catholic church in his country in Nuuk, the capital. For a time he worked as a social worker in order to understand the native peoples more clearly and become fluent in their language. After 13 years of ministry, he sought a dispensation and married Mona. He and his wife Mona had three children–Kristoffer, Karina and Kristina. His son died suddenly at the age of 3. This resulted in a severe crisis in his family.

After his life of ministry, Finn engaged in social work, administration of the Greenlandic radio and politics. He was a member of the International Whaling Commission and served other international groups as a specialist on the Arctic environment. In the early 1980s, he was aware of the changing future of Greenland because of global warming.

He was a member of the Earth Charter. In 1979, he was elected as a member of the Siumut party to represent Greenland in the European Parliament, Greenland being a colony of Denmark. His task was to facilitate the withdrawal of his country from the EEU. That was effective in 1985. Thereafter, Finn served as the coordinator of the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (1985-87). From 1987-94, he served as a consultant to the Danish Foreign Ministry in Copenhagen. Later, he was a senior advisor to the Greenlandic government. In 2003 he retired. In his retirement, he assisted in promoting tourism to the replica of the first church built in North America by the other of Leif Erikson. He also published a 2-volumn autobiography, completing it shortly before he died.  

He is survived by his wife, Rie Oldenburg, two daughters and a stepdaughter.

In 1992, he published Arctic Wars, Animal Rights. In 2013 he completed a two-volume memoir published in Danish.

Much more information can be obtained from the long list of citations via GOOGLE, using his name: Finn Lynge. The CARC interview is quite informative. There are also very beautiful images of his funeral, as he was buried in a bright yellow casket at the site of the tiny replica Trohilda’s church.

Finn had strong opinions about animal rights which were informed by his culture. His countrymen have no army. As hunters they have great respect for nature.