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Norway: Lutheran Church introduces gay marriage and divides. Comment of Oslo Catholic diocese

“This week the Synod of the Lutheran Church decided to introduce religious marriage for same-sex couples. That’s not surprising; it’s in the wake of the political trend leading the Parliament to introduce gay marriage in 2008”. Thus Hans Rossiné – in charge of communication for the Catholic diocese of Oslo – commented for SIR last Monday’s vote of the Synod. “Historical decision” for the Church of Norway, though taken in disagreement (88 in favour out of 115). “Its nature will not break the communion of altar and pulpit in the Norwegian Church”, says the document of the Synod, leaving pastors “free to choose whether celebrating same-sex marriages” or not. However, “a Lutheran pastor resigned as a sign of protest. Moreover, the Catholic diocese of Oslo was called by persons intending to leave the Lutheran Church to join the Catholic Church”, said Rossiné, who added: “It’s too early to say what the impact on ecumenical life will be; debate is going on”. On 5 April, several Christian leaders such as Catholic Msgr. Bernt Eidsvig issued a statement: “Understanding of marriage is put to the test in our Churches”. We are aware that “pressure of society will increase for us to follow the Lutheran Church. Probably, there will be a double marriage as happens in other European countries, a religious and a civil marriage”.

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