Church of Norway endorses gay marriage

The General Synod of the Church of Norway, the Kirkemøtet, has endorsed a motion calling for the creation of rites for gay marriage. On 11 April 2016 the church council meeting in Oslo voted 88 to 27 to modify the current rites of marriage and blessings for same-sex couples who had entered into civil marriages to a single, gender neutral marriage rite.  In 2008 the Norwegian government authorized same-sex marriages and asked the state Lutheran Church to prepare a liturgy for its use. However, the church had refused to act until this week and remains sharply divided. In 2013 eight of the church’s 12 bishops said they would approve same-sex marriages in their dioceses, but declined to act in deference to the views of the minority. This week’s vote reverses the 2014 decision of the church council, which voted  64 to 51 to reject same-sex marriage rites. However, the 2014 synod also voted to reject the church’s traditional stance on marriage by a vote of 62 to 54. Last October the Norwegian House of Bishops voiced their approval for rites for the blessing of same-sex marriages. Presiding Bishop Helga Byfuglien (pictured) on 30 Oct 2015 told NTB: “There are different perceptions of marriage among same sex couples both in the Norwegian Church and among the bishops. But we are keen to find a decision that could have a unifying effect.”

 
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