Norwegian bishops consider special liturgy for gay couples

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The Church of Norway has yet to decide if it should create a new liturgy for same-sex couples.

From January gays and lesbians will be able to have a full civil marriage in Norway.

The bishops of Norway’s state church ruled in October that there will be no weddings in church for gay and lesbian couples.

The Lutheran church counts nearly 85 percent of Norway’s 4.7 million people as members.

The bishops said that pastors may say prayers for married gay and lesbian couples but not bless their relationships.

Civil marriage in church was also rejected by the bishops.

Bishops are considering a new blessing for same-sex couples.

“In this way, homosexual matrimony is recognised, and homosexuals are received in a way that is honourable and shows equality,” Bishop Jorgensen told NRK.

”We ought to manage that. It is not necessary to make drastic changes to the wording in order to give homosexuals their own liturgy.”

In November 2007 the outright ban on clergy in same-sex relationships was lifted. However, each bishop decides whether or not to employ them.

While there is broad agreement in the Church of Norway on the usefulness of registered partnership as a legal framework for homosexual people living together, attitudes in the church are deeply divided on the ethical issue of homosexuality as such.

New legislation on same-sex marriage approved by the Norwegian parliament in June went further, amending the definition of civil marriage in Norway to make it gender neutral and extending parenting rights for gay and lesbian couples.

It will replace a 1993 law that gave same-sex couples the right to enter into civil unions.

Couples with a pre-registered civil partnership will be able to convert it into marriage.

Under the new legislation, which comes into force in January, the Church of Norway was allowed, but not compelled, to bless same-sex marriages.