Church confirms same-sex marriages

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The bishops of The Norwegian Church (Den Norske Kirke) announced on Friday that they had given their blessing to the creation of a new liturgy for use in marriage ceremonies between people of the same sex. Advocates of chuch-recognized homosexual marriage called it “an historic breakthrough.”

The move was expected, after church elections in September resulted in a majority favouring same-sex marriage that will be present at next year’s annual church meeting, when the issue will be taken up. The bishops’ approval of a new liturgy, however, is an important step in the process.

Archbishop Helga Haugland Byfuglien said that homosexuals will thus be allowed to marry in their local church. That means all churches in Norway must offer homosexual marriage ceremonies. Pastors and other church employees who object, however, should be able to reserve themselves against taking part in such marriage ceremonies, according to the bishops.

“We are very happy about this, it’s an historic breakthrough,” said Sturla Stålsett, a pastor and leader of the organization Åpen folkekirke (Open People’s Church), which has supported homosexual marriage in the church. Homosexuals have been married in civil ceremonies in Norway for many years.

newsinenglish.no staff