Church of Finland clergy will not be permitted to solemnize same-sex weddings after the ceremonies are created under the state Marriage Act that comes into effect on 1 March 2017.
A protocol released on 31 Aug 2016 by the state Lutheran church, Suomen evankelis-luterilainen kirkko, said the new law will have no impact on church weddings, as the church’s prayer book defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. “It can be concluded that the changes to be introduced to the Marriage Act on 1 March, 2017, will have no effect on the rights of pastors to officiate church weddings,” the report (below) states.
The bishops said Church of Finland will continue to pray with and for all couples who marry, but may only solemnize traditional marriages. Nevertheless, same-sex couples are to be welcomed.
“Church members will include married same-sex couples after 1 March, 2017. As has been noted previously, the church is for everyone. Same-sex couples are welcome to all church activities and shall be treated as families, even though they have not entered into marriage in accordance with the Church Act,” the protocol said.
Penalties for violation of the protocol were not spelled out in the document, but are to be addressed by the local bishop.