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Gay partnership no block to office says Norwegian church body


The national council of the (Lutheran) Church of Norway is recommending to the denomination’s general synod that it allow homosexuals in registered partnerships to serve as bishops, priests, deacons or catechists.

However, a bishop should still be able to refuse to ordain people in same-sex registered partnerships if the bishop believes it would be a violation of church teaching to do so, the council stated.

"Our advice does not mean that the church will have two equally official views on this matter, but that we note the existence of two views," the national council moderator, Nils-Tore Andersen, was quoted as saying by the Norwegian Vart Land newspaper after the council’s decision on 13 September.

Andersen said the church needed to take a decision as it was "bleeding" because of the issue. "To postpone a decision would merely keep the wound open and obstruct the church’s real task," he said in comments reported by the Norwegian News Agency (NTB).

Current Church of Norway policy is that people in same-sex partnerships should not hold consecrated offices.

Still, several dioceses already have priests and deacons living in same-sex partnerships, as some bishops have chosen not to follow existing church policy.

Of the 15 ordained and lay members of the national council, 11 supported the latest recommendation. The four council members who voted against included the present moderator of the church’s bishops’ conference, Bishop Olav Skjevesland of Agder and Telemark.

Arne Groenningsaeter, who lives in a registered same-sex partnership and is a lay member of the council, said the church’s general synod now has the possibility to do away with a situation where "some people are seen as second-class church members". 

Ecumenical News International