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Church of Norway rejects gay marriage: The Church of England Newspaper, May 16, 2014 June 2, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Norway.
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The General Synod of the Church of Norway, the Kirkemøtet, has rejected a motion that would have permitted same-sex church weddings or the blessing by clergy of same-sex civil unions. However, the 8 April 2014 meeting in Kristiansand also voted not to affirm the church’s traditional stance that marriage is between one man and one woman. The vote against gay marriage was 64 votes to 51, while the vote rejecting the church’s traditional stance on marriage was 62 to 54. In 1993 Norway introduced same-sex civil partnerships and in 2008 amended its marriage laws to make them gender-neutral. Church of Norway priest, the Rev. Dr. Arne H. Fjelstad – director of The Media Project in Washington – told The Church of England Newspaper the defeat of the gay marriage motion was “really a Pyrrhic victory for the more moderate/conservative group within the church.” He noted that some pro-gay marriage bishops after the vote urged patience saying: “With such a close race there is now much more liberty/freedom for us to conduct ceremonies for gays and lesbians. Stay in the church – don’t leave, we have more freedom now, and the situation is doomed to change within a few years.”

Church of Norway clergy union backs gay marriage: The Church of England Newspaper, January 24, 2014 January 27, 2014

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Norway, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue.
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The executive council of the Church of Norway’s clerical union has given its support to church gay marriage. At its December meeting, the union’s central board, the Presteforeningen, unanimously voted to ask the Church of Norway to prepare a rite for the blessing of gay marriages.

Founded in 1900, the Presteforeningen, or Priestly Union counts 2500 clergy and candidates for Holy Orders among its members. It serves as a trade union for the clergy in negotiating wages, conditions of work and other professional concerns.

In 2008 the Norwegian parliament was the first among the Scandinavian countries to revise revised its marriage laws to permit same-sex or gender neutral marriage, followed by Sweden 2008, Iceland 2010, and Denmark 2012.  While the Church of Sweden in 2009 authorized its clergy to perform same-sex the Church of Norway has so far declined to follow the government’s lead.

The executive committee’s vote has sparked dissent among clergy ranks, however. NTB reports that 50 clergy have quit the union in protest since the vote, including the former Bishop of Agder and Telemark, the Rt. Rev. Olav Skjevesland.

Norwegian primate appointed: The Church of England Newspaper, April 8, 2011 p 8. April 9, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Norway.
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Bishop Helga Haugland Byfuglien

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Bishop of Borg, the Rt. Rev. Helga Haugland Byfuglien, has been appointed by the Minister for Church Affairs to be the Church of Norway’s presiding bishop.  Bishop Byfuglien becomes the first permanent primate of the Church of Norway and also its first female leader.

Since the Reformation, the presiding bishop of the Church of Norway has been a one year post that passed among the church’s 11 bishops.  However, the office of primate and presiding bishop without territorial jurisdiction was created last year “to strengthen the president function” of the office.

The membership of the Bishops’ Conference of the Church of Norway will now rise to 12 members, and the new primate will be officially based in the National Offices in Oslo but with a seat in the ancient cathedral of Nidaros (Trondheim).

Born in 1950, Bishop Byfuglien has led the Diocese of Borg since 2005 and is vice president of the Lutheran World Federation.  Before her consecration she also served as General Secretary of the Norwegian YWCA-YMCA from 2001 – 2005.  Bishop Byfuglien was the only candidate for the post, and was nominated by the church’s bishops for the position.

Considered a progressive among Norwegian church circles, the new presiding bishop has sought to open the church’s doors to non-traditional forms of spirituality and healing.  “The Church needs to be open for the multitude of people who have some kind of New Age background,” Bishop Byfuglien said, according to a March 28 report in the Norwegian Christian Daily, Dagen Magazinet.

“The Established Church must listen and be open for this kind of experience. We must give space for other forms of worship, like silence and meditation.” the presiding bishop said.

Oslo bishop accused of offering pay-off for abuse victim’s silence: The Church of England Newspaper, Jan 21, 2011 p 7 January 25, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Abuse, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Norway.
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The Rt. Rev. Ole Christian Kvarme, Bishop of Oslo

First Published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Bishop of Oslo has been accused of offering money to a women in exchange for her silence after she accused a clergyman of sexual misconduct.

The Norwegian press reports that the Rt. Rev. Ole Christian Kvarme was contacted by a member of his diocese 18 months ago.  The parishioner stated that while on a pastoral visit to her home, a clergyman put his hand down the front of her blouse.  The 70 year old woman wrote a letter of complaint to the clergyman, expressing her disappointment with his betrayal of her trust.  The clergyman offered an apology, the Oslo newspaper VG reported, but did not refer to the incident in his note.

The parishioner notified Bishop Kvarme, who then met with her.  “The Bishop thought it was a terrible matter, but was happy I had held my faith. He didn’t mention any more about it,” she told VG.

She wrote to the bishop last year to follow up on the incident, and now claims the bishop offered her 10,000 kroner in exchange for her silence.  She responded by lodging a complaint with the police, who are currently investigating the affair.

Bishop Kvarme confirmed he had offered money to the woman, but denied it was for her silence.

The Minister of Church Affairs, Rigmor Aasrud, declined to comment on the matter as it was under investigation, but stated “one cannot simply buy one’s way out of these types of matters.”

“We are not aware that the church has used money in this way before. It is not a natural way of using money that the Church has received from us,” she said.

Norwegian fraud inquiry could topple bishop: CEN 9.28.08 September 28, 2008

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Norway, Crime, Gambling.
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A multi-million pound fraud scheme may topple a Norwegian bishop from office and land his son in jail, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) reports. A warrant was issued last week for the arrest of Bjarte Baasland, son of the Rt. Rev. Ernst Baasland (pictured), the Church of Norway’s Bishop of Stavangar.

Bjarte Baasland is accused of bilking investors of £5.75 million, claiming the money was for an internet start-up company. However, the funds were allegedly diverted to pay gambling debts from losses he incurred playing on internet gaming sites.

The bishop filed for bankruptcy on Sept 11 declaring debts of £1.6 million in guarantees to investors in his son’s company. “The bishop has been granted two-and-a-half weeks leave of absence from his job,” Minister of Church Affairs, Trond Giske, said after the bishop filed the bankruptcy petition.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

Norwegian fraud inquiry could topple bishop

Norway Move Attacked: CEN 11.30.07 p 8. November 29, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Norway, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Russian Orthodox.
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The notion of gay clergy violates Christian decency and Biblical norms, a spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church said last week in response to the Church of Norway’s vote to permit gay clergy.

The Russian Orthodox Church’s secretary for inter-Christian relations Fr. Igor Vyzhanov said Moscow “totally denies that homosexual persons may be ordained to church ministry.  It is an unbiblical act repugnant to the Christian moral norms and absolutely unacceptable for us.”

On Nov 16 Norway’s General Synod voted by a margin of 50-34 to overturn the national ban on gay clergy, giving the dioceses a local option on whether or not to permit gay clergy to serve in parish ministry.

The Moscow Patriarchate has denounced the Norwegian vote and is reconsidering its ecumenical relations with that country’s Lutheran state church.  However, the decision to break relations with the Church of Norway would be up to the Moscow Patriarchate’s Holy Synod, Fr. Vyzhanov told Interfax on Nov 22, but at the very least the Norwegian vote was “unhelpful for dialogue.”

In 2003 Moscow ended over a hundred years of ecumenical dialogue with the Episcopal Church in protest to the consecration of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire.  It later reached out to the conservative Anglican Communion Network in 2005, exploring ways of continuing dialogue between the Russian Orthodox Church and traditionalist Anglican dioceses in the US.

After the Church of Sweden authorized rites for the blessing of same sex unions in 2005, the Moscow Patriarchate broke off relations with that country’s Lutheran state church, stating gay blessings “destroyed the moral basis of the European civilization and radically harms its spiritual influence worldwide.”

Norway allows local option on gay clergy: CEN 11.26.07 p 8. November 22, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Norway, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue.
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Photo: Church of Norway News

The General Synod of the Church of Norway has voted to allow bishops the ‘local option’ of ordaining and licensing gay clergy.

Read it all in The Church of England Newspaper.

On Nov 16 the state Lutheran church’s synod voted by a margin of 50-34 to overturn the national ban on gay clergy and leave the decision to the diocese. The vote overturns statements made in 1995 and 1997 that said those in registered same-sex partnerships could hold lay positions, but could not be ordained as clergy.

On Sept 13 the Church’s National Council stated that it believed the consensus within the church over gay clergy had shifted in the past ten years and urged Synod to revisit the issue. Last month the Norwegian bishops’ conference voted six to five to permit a ‘local option’, subject to ratification by Synod.

Two bishops had already defied the ban, licensing three gay clergy to serve as pastors, claiming that justice required that they act.

Following sharp and prolonged debate Synod revised the canons, stating that ecclesial bodies responsible for clergy appointments may either appoint, or not appoint, persons living in same-sex partnership, without being in breach of Norwegian law.

In a statement released by its press office, the Church of Norway explained that while Synod “confirms that there is still a basis in the church in support of not ordaining, appointing, or granting an episcopal letter of recommendation” to gay clergy, there was not the “same degree of consensus” on this point as in prior years.

“Both the church’s Doctrinal Commission and the Bishops’ Conference are now divided near the middle in their assessment whether persons living in same-sex partnership should be allowed to serve in ordained ministry,” it said.

Granting a ‘local option’ recognized the “existing reality” that the authority to ordain clergy lay not with General Synod but with “the relevant bishops.”.

Responses to the vote were mixed and reflected the sharp divide within the Church. The Associated Press quoted Marit Tingelstad, head of the Bishop’s Council for the Diocese of Hamar as saying the vote would “create peace in the church, and security for homosexual clergy.”

Bishop Ole Hagesaeter, of the Diocese of Bjoergvin was less sanguine. “This is a sad day for the church,” he said. “It will be a splitting factor and lead to many feeling homeless in the church.”

Porvoo Primates in Dublin: CEN 10.19.07 p 8. October 16, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Album (Photos), Church in Wales, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Ireland, Church of Norway, Church of Sweden, Porvoo, Scottish Episcopal Church.
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Front row … left to right.

The Most Rev Idris Jones, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church
The Most Rev Alan Harper, Primate of All Ireland and Archbishop of Armagh
The Rt Rev Ragnar Persenius, Bishop of Uppsala
The Most Rev John Neill, Primate of Ireland and Archbishop of Dublin
The Rt Rev Martin Wharton, Bishop of Newcastle
The Most Rev Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales
The Most Rev Jukka Paarma, Archbishop of Turku (Finland)

Second row:

The Most Rev Anders Wejryd, Archbishop of Uppsala
The Most Rev Janis Vanags, Archbishop of Riga
The Most Rev Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury
The Rt Rev Mindaugas Sabutis, Bishop of Lithuania
The Most Rev Olav Skjevesland, Bishop of Agder and Telemark, (Norway)
The Most Rev Karl Sigurbjornsson, Bishop of Iceland
The Rt Rev Erik Norman Svendsen, Bishop of Copenhagen
The Most Revd Andres Poder, Archbishop of Estonia

The Rt Revd Carlos Lopez Lozano, Bishop of Spain

Porvoo meeting overshadowed by crisis over homosexuality: CEN 10.19.07 p 8. October 16, 2007

Posted by geoconger in Church in Wales, Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Church of Ireland, Church of Norway, Church of Sweden, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Porvoo, Scottish Episcopal Church.
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The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams met in Dublin last week with the leaders of the Porvoo Communion of Anglican and Nordic Lutheran churches for private talks.  However Dr. Williams’ Irish excursion did not bring him a change of scene as the vexing issue of gay clergy followed him to Dublin.

While a spokesman for the Church of Ireland told The Church of England Newspaper there would be no formal statement of the gathering of Anglican and Lutheran bishops, sources familiar with the deliberations, held every two years, tell CEN that issues of common national and ecclesial concern were raised at the gathering.

The Lutheran Churches of the Porvoo Group: Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Iceland, Finland, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania are sharply divided over the Swedish church’s decision to authorize rites for the blessing of same-sex unions.  The Swedish move has opened a split within the Lutheran World Federation akin the divide in Anglicanism, with the Lutheran Churches of the Global South threatening to break with their Northern counterparts over the issue of gay blessings and clergy.

The controversy intensified last week when on Oct 2 by a vote of six to five, the Church of Norway’s Bishops’ Conference voted to recommend to the church’s general synod that non-celibate homosexuals be permitted to serve as bishops, priests and deacons.

The moderator of the Norwegian Bishop's Conference, Bishop Olav Skjevesland of Agder and Telemark, who attended the Dublin meeting, voted to reject the licensing of gay clergy. 

The Church of Norway has three openly gay ministers serving in parochial ministry under the license of their bishops.  The issue will now go before the Church’s Nov 12-17 meeting of General Synod for resolution.

In 1995 and 1997 the Norwegian Synod stated that people in registered same-sex partnerships could hold lay positions in the Church, but could not be ordained as clergy.

On Sept 13 the Church’s National Council stated that it believed the consensus within the church over gay clergy had shifted in the past ten years.  It recommended that Synod revise the church’s canons, allowing bishops the local option of whether or not to ordain and license gay clergy.

The National Council encouraged dialogue saying that “many members of the church are touched directly by this issue and that there are many who feel that their place in the church is at stake.”

“Church leaders should work continuously on attitudes and forms of communication, so that fellowship in the church is felt to be open, clear and inclusive,” it said