Historic decision on church weddings for same-sex couples

A large majority of the Synod members decided on April 11 that the Church of Norway (Evangelical Lutheran) will create a liturgy for church wedding of same-sex couples.

After the general Church election in September 2015 it was clear that a majority of the Synod members would order a liturgy for church wedding of same-sex couples. In October last year the Bishops' Conference presented a proposal for such a decision at the General Synod 2016. 88 of the present 115 synod members voted for this April 11.

This decision ends a history of conflict between supporters and opponents of Church wedding for same-sex couples.

The majority of the Synod members believe that in addition to the current liturgy for marriage and prayer liturgy for civil marriage between man and woman, the Church of Norway shall adopt a similar liturgy that includes same-sex couples, which also can be applied to all couples.

The next meeting of the Church of Norway Synod, which takes place January 25.-31. 2017, will adopt the new liturgy.

The church's historical decision, which received the support of a large majority in the Synod April 11, 2016, reads:

1. The General Synod acknowledges that the issue of homosexual cohabitation and marriage of same-sex couples is a matter that the Church of Norway after long discussions and several studies have failed to agree on.

2. The General Synod refers to previous resolutions stressing that theological disagreement on this issue is not of such a nature that the altar and pulpit fellowship within the Church of Norway must be broken. Both views on same-sex marriage may therefore be given room and find expression in the Church's liturgical arrangements, teaching and preaching.

3. A majority of the Synod believes that, in addition to the current liturgy of marriage and intercession for civil marriage between man and woman, one has to prepare similar liturgies, which include same-sex couples and which can be applied to all couples.

4. A minority of the Synod did not want Church wedding of same-sex couples because it is against their understanding of marriage. Those of the minority who support this decision, nevertheless take into account how the Synod is composed, and that such liturgies therefore will be prepared and implemented.

5. The Synod assumes that these liturgies will be introduced as ordinary liturgical orders, which will be applied throughout the Church of Norway in order for all members to be able to marry in their local church.

6. The Synod states that priests have the freedom to choose whether to perform weddings of same-sex couples or intercede for civil marriage between persons of the same sex . Other church employees should also have a similar opportunity not to take part in the liturgy.

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