Nordic churches and the gay issue – Church of Finland
Posted by Fr Mark on August 6, 2009
From the Church of Finland’s website:
The Church and registered partner relationships – a consideration:
The Working group requests the Bishops’ Conference to draw up guidelines for action
The Working Group on the Same Sex Marriage Law, set up by the Bishops’ Conference, recommends unanimously that the Conference rapidly spells out guidelines for pastoral action where Church staff are asked to give an official blessing for a registered partner relationship.
The Working Group has made three conclusions which were presented in the press conference on the 16th of March:
Point 1 – the Working Group does not recommend that Church Law be changed so that it forbade a worker in a registered relationship from working in the Church.
Point 2 – the Working Group does not suggest that Bishops’ Conference should actively start to create a new ceremonial function for the blessing of those in a registered relationship.
Point 3 – the Church needs pastoral guidelines both for the sake of Church unity and for staff’s and supervisors’ legal protection
- solutions could be sought along the lines of blessings which are applied to the blessing of homes, prayers in the Church handbook, open blessings and private pastoral care
- if the Prayer or other ceremony is held, participation by Church staff should be voluntary.
On 16.3.09 the Working Group published its broad study of the Church and registered partner relationships.
“Now is the time for focussed discussion. Supporters of different opinions must now work respectfully with each other and seek solutions which both parties can stand behind.” declared Archbishop Paarma in a press conference considering the deliberations of the Working Group.
The Bishops’ Conference will next consider the issue in its meeting in September, the Conference being convened twice a year. From there the issue will continue to the Church Assembly
Background to the Church debate on same sex marriage
In 2002 the Finnish Evangelical Church received two proposals from representatives:
– that individuals in registered same sex relationships should not be eligible for posts in the Church
– that individuals in same sex relationships should be able to receive a Church Blessing
The Church Assembly shelved the proposals but sent them to be clarified in the Bishops’ Conference. The Conference receives aid from the Church Research Centre. In 2005 the Bishops’ Conference set up the Registered Partner Relationship Working group under the Bishop of Espoo, Mikko Heikka. In 2007 the Church leadership organised two seminars which formed the basis of two books published by the Church Research Centre:
Homosexuality in the Bible and in the Church’s teaching
Homosexuality in the Depiction of Man and in the Law (published 16.3.09)
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