Monday, March 20, 2006

Lutheran warns Church of Norway could split over homosexuality

Ecumenical News International
Daily News Service
20 March 2006

Lutheran warns Church of Norway could split over homosexuality

By Oivind Ostang
Oslo, 20 March (ENI)--The head of the (Lutheran) Church of
Norway's doctrinal commission, Professor Torleiv Austad, has
warned that the denomination may split over the issue of

The commission was divided when it drew up a report in January as
to whether people living in same-sex relationships should hold
consecrated office. This led to suggestions that the church might
choose to have two equally official views on the matter,
something rejected by Austad.

"The situation is such that those caring for ecumenical
fellowship and for the unity of the Church of Norway should not
enforce decisions putting the two views side by side and allowing
the practice of both," Austad wrote in Luthersk Kirketidende (the
Lutheran Church Times), a quarterly theological publication.

The commission was evenly split on the proposal with a 6-5
episcopal majority in favour of same-sex cohabitants holding
consecrated office.

Austad told the daily newspaper Vart Land earlier in March, "My
hope is that one will see that the two understandings of
homosexuality are so different that both cannot simultaneously be
practised in liturgy and church order. One will simply have to

He said that before the matter reaches a general synod meeting in
2007, the Church of Norway national council ought to initiate a
thorough theological study of what practical consequences might
be drawn from the commission's report.

A Church of Norway bishop, Odd Bondevik of More diocese, has said
he might resign if the church introduces a liturgy for same-sex
partnerships or formally accepts homosexual cohabitants holding
consecrated office.

In a mid-February lecture, Bondevik said, "I am uncertain where
to draw the exact line in this matter. However, putting
homosexual partnership on the same footing as marriage, is in any
case heresy."

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