Church same-sex blessings across Europe
In the Nordic countries, The Church of Sweden has decided to adopt a non-discriminatory principle for marriage, in the light of the recent change to the law there, which removes the category of civil partnerships, converting them all to same-sex marriages http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/15/sweden-the-gay-issue-2/ . The Bishop of Stockholm http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/08/church-of-sweden-women-bishops-gay-issue/ is also a partnered lesbian. Denmark is now planning to follow Sweden, Norway and Iceland in moving to civil same-sex marriage and, in consequence, the Danish government has announced that there will also be same-sex religious marriage available in the Church of Denmark http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2011/11/25/denmark-the-gay-issue-12/ : the same debate is also underway in Iceland http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/26/iceland-the-gay-issue-3/ There is a report of the first gay marriage in an Icelandic Church http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/15/iceland-the-gay-issue-2/, and Reykjavik Gay Pride rather touchingly culminates in a Church of Iceland service http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/15/iceland-the-gay-issue/.
In the Church of Norway, clergy are performing blessings in advance of the new liturgy being approved http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/category/church-of-norway-den-norske-kirke/ ; the Church of Norway already accepts partnered gay clergy http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/norway-the-gay-issue/ . There are also reports of clergy marrying same-sex couples in church http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/15/norway-the-gay-issue-2/ http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/15/norway-the-gay-issue-3/ and fears are being expressed that the church’s slow pace in approving an official same-sex marriage rite is putting ordinary Norwegians off http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/15/norway-the-gay-issue-4/ In Finland, the debate is currently calmly proceeding in the same direction http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/category/evangelical-lutheran-church-of-finland-suomen-evankelis-luterilainen-kirkko/ , though, as in Norway, clergy are going ahead and blessing same-sex couples in advance of the church authorities’ agreement http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/10/04/finland-the-gay-issue-4/.
All these churches are in full communion with the Church of England (under the Porvoo Agreement), as also is the Old Catholic Church, under a separate agreement. In Sweden, the Old Catholic Church performs non-discriminatory marriage ceremonies http://www.gammalkatolik.se/. The Old Catholic Synod of Bishops in Europe has voted to allow same-sex blessings and develop a liturgy for them http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/old-catholic-church-the-gay-issue/ Old Catholic clergy in Germany bless same-sex couples http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/17/germany-the-gay-issue-7/ ; and a gay Roman Catholic Austrian priest has moved over to work for the Old Catholic Church there http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/austria-the-gay-issue-3/ The Old Catholic Church in Switzerland also blesses same-sex couples http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/06/old-catholic-church-and-the-gay-issue/ as also in the Netherlands http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/17/the-netherlands-the-gay-issue-5/
In Belgium http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/11/belgium-the-gay-issue-3/ and The Netherlands, Protestant churches are blessing same-sex marriages http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/11/the-netherlands-the-gay-issue-2/ http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/category/the-netherlands/ http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/08/the-netherlands-the-gay-issue/ ; in many Swiss cantons, the Swiss Reformed Church blesses same-sex couples http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/category/swiss-reformed-church/ ; http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/08/switzerland-the-gay-issue/ http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/09/switzerland-the-gay-issue-2/ http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/17/switzerland-the-gay-issue-3/; in Spain, it is possible to find a pastor to celebrate a same-sex marriage blessing (all marriages in Spain are civil) http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/07/spain-the-gay-issue/ ; http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/10/spain-the-gay-issue-2/ .
In Poland, a Protestant pastor blesses same-sex couples http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/07/poland-gay-issue/ ; so also do pastors in France http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/18/france-the-gay-issue-7/ http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/18/france-the-gay-issue-6/ http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/10/france-the-gay-issue-2/ and Romania http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/romania-the-gay-issue/ . In Italy, there are also pastors of the Waldensian Church who bless same- sex couples http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/20/italy-the-gay-issue-8/ http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/category/waldensian-church-chiesa-valdese/
In the Lutheran Church (Evangelische Kirche) in Austria http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/08/austria-the-gay-issue-2/ , openly partnered gay clergy are employed. In 9 of the 22 Landeskirchen of the Lutheran Church in Germany, public church blessings of same-sex couples are already approved http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/09/germany-the-gay-issue-4/ http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/12/germany-the-gay-issue-6/ . Lutheran clergy are amongst those whose relationships have been blessed http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2010/06/15/germany-the-gay-issue-15/ In the Baltic States, a Lutheran priest in Latvia was prepared to put his job on the line to show solidarity for the gay community there http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/12/latvia-the-gay-issue/
There are courageous Roman Catholic clergy braving the wrath of the Vatican by blessing same-sex couples in Belgium http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/08/belgium-the-gay-issue/ http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/11/belgium-the-gay-issue-2/ ; Germany http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/07/roman-catholic-church-in-germany-the-gay-issue/ http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/09/germany-the-gay-issue-5/ ; France http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/18/france-the-gay-issue-4/ and Italy http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/08/italy-the-gay-issue/ http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/20/italy-the-gay-issue-6/ , where one priest claims to have married more than 200 same-sex couples http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/17/italy-the-gay-issue-5/ . Also, in Italy, there is a report of a priest blessing a trans marriage http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/10/italy-gay-issue/ . In Slovakia, an Eastern Rite Roman Catholic priest talks of his willingness to bless same-sex couples http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/slovakia-the-gay-issue/ , as did the Roman Catholic Bishop of Evreux in France some years ago http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/france-the-gay-issue-3/ .
Even in Portugal, the Secretary of the Roman Catholic Bishops Conference seems to have (inadvertently?) come out in support of same-sex civil partnerships http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/15/portugal-the-gay-issue/ While the Roman Catholic hierarchy in Spain were instructed by the Vatican to fight same-sex marriage legislation, there is evidence that this has cost the church dear in terms of credibility in Spanish society http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/19/spain-the-gay-issue-5/ , and has left it “speaking into a vacuum – no-one listens to it.” 75% of the Spanish public disagreed with the bishops’ stand http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/19/spain-the-gay-issue-4/ The Roman Catholic Bishop of Bolzano in Italy has also come out in favour if the government there introducing civil partnerships http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/09/11/italy-the-gay-issue-10/
In the British Isles, where it is believed that as many as half of all civil partnerships are being blessed in church http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/19/britain-the-gay-issue-5/ , large numbers of blessing services take place in England http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/england-the-gay-issue-2/ http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/11/church-of-england-the-gay-issue-2/ http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/08/church-of-england-the-gay-issue/ http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/england-the-gay-issue-3/ http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/england-the-gay-issue/ http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/20/england-the-gay-issue-7/
They also take place in Scotland http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/11/scotland-the-gay-issue/ http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/category/scottish-episcopal-church/ http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/scotland-the-gay-issue-2/ ; in Wales http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/08/church-in-wales-the-gay-issue/ ; and in Ireland http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/11/ireland-the-gay-issue/ . The Church of Ireland’s Primate of All Ireland believes that same-sex relationships should perhaps be sanctioned by the church http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/19/ireland-the-gay-issue-2/
In Britain, the Quakers have also decided to celebrate same-sex marriages http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/08/britain-the-gay-issue/ . The Methodists already bless same-sex couples http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/britain-the-gay-issue-4/ ; as do the Unitarians http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/20/england-the-gay-issue-8/ and Britain’s best-known Evangelical layman has come out in favour of same-sex marriage http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/14/england-the-gay-issue-5/
Amongst the Eastern Orthodox churches, the Finnish Orthodox Church contains clergy who perform same-sex blessings http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/12/finland-the-gay-issue-2/ http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/12/finland-the-gay-issue-3/ ; and, in Russia http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/12/russia-the-gay-issue/ , clergy can be found to bless gay couples. There are also Greek Orthodox faithful who are beginning to argue for acceptance of same-sex relationships http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/27/greece-the-gay-issue-2/ ; and, although the hierarchy is not exactly on board yet http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/08/27/greece-the-gay-issue/, the Archbishop of Athens has reportedly adopted a more pragmatic line http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/category/greek-orthodox-church/
Map of same-sex marriage laws in Europe, 2010:
Dark blue = civil same-sex marriage; light blue = civil unions or other legal equivalent to marriage; yellow = issue under political consideration; red = constitution currently bans same-sex marriage