Norway to Return Seized Children to Christian Parents After Int'l Pressure

The Bodnariu family.
The Bodnariu family. | (Photo: Facebook/Norway, Return the children to Bodnariu Family)

The Christian parents of five children, who were seized by Norwegian child services seven months ago to "prevent" them from being "indoctrinated" with Christianity, will soon be reunited as the authorities have agreed to return the custody of the remaining four kids to the family.

"We thank you all for your love, support, prayers, and active participation in the reunification of this family. May God richly bless you and repay you for all you have done to bring this family back together," says a statement from the Romanian Pentecostal parents, Marius and Ruth Bodnariu, who have been living in Norway for more than a decade, according to Romania Insider.

Norway's Dagen newspaper reported that the decision to return the kids to their family is part of an agreement reached with the family.

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The five children were seized by the Norwegian Child Protective Services on Nov. 16 and 17 last year based on a teacher's concerns about how the kids were being raised by "radical" Christians who were "indoctrinating" their children. Parliamentarians, lawyers and Christian groups from many countries, including the United States, Romania and other part of Europe, raised serious concerns over the action of the Norwegian child services.

In early April, only the youngest of the five children was returned to the parents. When the other children will be returned is not known.

"It is very important for all of us to respect the privacy and uninterrupted intimacy of this family in the following period as the children resettle and reintegrate themselves in their natural family home and environment," the family's statement added.

On Thursday, Romanian parliamentarian Ben Oni Ardelean wrote in a Facebook post that the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe has approved a report on the Bodnariu case.

"Today, the members of the Committee for Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) have decided to elaborate a Draft Report on: 'Striking a balance between the best interest of the child and need to keep the families together.' … The report will consider to which extent the abusive measures taken by the Childcare Social Services from Norway are compatible with the Council of Europe's standards in this specific field, and the resolution, which will draw the main conclusions from the report, will make concrete legislative recommendations to the Norwegian competent authorities," Ardelean wrote, according to the Insider, which translated the post.

The family appealed the agency's decision to remove the children last November, but it was rejected.

Officials went to the family's home, allegedly without documentation, and seized two of the sons and arrested Ruth, who took her baby son, Ezekiel, with her to the police station, the British-based Christian Institute reported at the time. Officials also went to Marius' work and arrested him.

After being interrogated for several hours, the parents and baby Ezekiel were freed and allowed to go home, but without the other children. The following day, officials went back to the Bodnariu's home and took Ezekiel into custody on the grounds that Ruth was "dangerous."

Last month, more than 100 attorneys from the United States and abroad and members of the European Parliament wrote a letter to the Norwegian Prime Minister, saying the government's act of seizing the children violated domestic and international law, and urging their immediate release.

"We find the facts of this international incident unacceptable not only on legal grounds but also on humanitarian and moral grounds. We view these transgressions as grievous breaches of domestic and international law… Therefore, it is important that Norway immediately release the children back to their biological parents," the authors of the letter demanded.

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