Gay marriage remarks prompt exodus from Church of Finland

Over 13,000 people have quit the Church of Finland in three days in protest to a statement by the Archbishop of Turku that he “rejoiced” in the vote by parliament to approve gay marriage.

Finnish state broadcaster YLE reports that over 13,000 members of the Church of Finland have quit the state Lutheran church over the past weekend in protest to a statement by the Archbishop of Turku Kari Mäkinen that he “rejoiced” in the 28 Nov 2014 vote by parliament to approve gay marriage. The Bishop of Porvoo Björn Vikström told YLE the church had become the scapegoat for those opposed to the change in the marriage laws. ”The decision has aroused a lot of anger,” Bishop Vikström said. ”People are disappointed and want to protest. As they cannot resign from the state or from the parliament, then at least some of that anger has been focused on the church and on the archbishop’s comments.” The creation of civil same sex marriages would not change the church’s teachings, the Bishop of Espoo Tapio Luoma said. ”It’s clear that the church will make its own decisions according to its own beliefs.” But Bishop Vikström noted clergy have end their role as registrar for marriages. ”If everyone first gets married at a registry office and then those that want to come to ask for their union to be blessed, that would be easier to get through,” he noted. ”On the other hand the danger is that the church has a long tradition of marrying people, and many priests have said to me that it would not be a good idea to give that up.” However, some church leaders supported the change. ”A situation in which we have a different handle on what marriage is to the society and the government creates a tension that isn’t good for anyone.,” Bishop Luoma noted.

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