Thursday, 22 October 2009

Sweden votes on church weddings

Updated again Monday

From The Local the English language news website in Sweden, comes this report:

The Synod of the Lutheran Church of Sweden has come down in favour of church weddings for homosexuals in a vote held on Thursday morning.

The decision, which is based on a proposal from the church’s governing board, means that the Church of Sweden will conduct wedding ceremonies for both heterosexual and homosexual couples.

The proposal was approved by 176 of 249 voting members…

Our own correspondent reports the vote was 176 Ayes, 62 Noes, 11 Abstentions.

Updates

Swedish Radio has a more detailed report at Church Says Yes to Gay Weddings.

Independent Swedish church agrees to conduct gay weddings by Ilze Filks of Reuters

BBC Sweden church allows gay weddings

AFP Sweden’s Lutheran church to celebrate gay weddings

Religious Intelligence George Conger Sweden church allows gay weddings

Monday updates

Bishop David Hamid has written about this on his blog, Church of Sweden Approves Marriage of Same Sex Couples.

Andrew Brown has written at Cif belief Swedish church not so gay-friendly.

ENS has publised a report from ENI by Trevor Grundy and Fredrick Nzwili Lutheran decision on same-sex marriage draws flak from Africa, England.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 22 October 2009 at 11:45am BST | TrackBack
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More evidence - if any were needed- that the Pope's liferaft arrives just as the ship begins to sink

Posted by: Ed Tomlinson on Thursday, 22 October 2009 at 1:57pm BST

So, as expected-predicted, the other shoes are dropping in changed religious communities.

This shift raises the delicate Anglican question: Who then is covenanted to speak positively to the Swedish believers with whom Anglicans are in full communion - about the positive views/welcome that Anglicans give to committed queer folks in couples?

Not for now, it appears, will any of the Usual Suspects suffice. Not even Rowan Williams, whose personal best so far is to mildly remind global citizens that Anglicans care to distinguish abstractly between hitting the queer folks in the face, and believing categorically horrid things about them, definitively.

Not In My Anglican Name, RW. Please.

Posted by: drdanfee on Thursday, 22 October 2009 at 8:09pm BST

I suppose TEC will continue in commmunion with the Lutheran Church of Sweden, while the Church of England will not be in communion with either one.

Posted by: Charlotte on Thursday, 22 October 2009 at 8:22pm BST

Ed: Really, what a mean-spirited comment! Why on earth would getting their act together vis-a-vis gay couples be a sign of the ship beginning to sink? Isn't sticking one's head in the sand and wishing it were still 1950 a more certain way of sinking the ship?

Sweden is pretty impressive by comparison with most other socities when it comes to equality for women and gay people (as well as being, with Denmark and Norway, the world's top per capita aid donors) - don't knock it, please. Many other Europeans are fairly shocked at the startling inequalities in British society, and a church officially committed to maintaining inequality isn't going to be of any use in improving the situation, is it?

The press here in Copenhagen says that the Government is discussing bringing in same-sex marriage legislation here soon now too (there are currently civil partnerships available, and the state Church of Denmark blesses them liturgically)http://www.berlingske.dk/politik/homovielser-maa-blive-uden-kirken, and that in the meantime, the Swedish Church in Copenhagen will be performing same-sex marriages anyway. I wonder whether that means Swedish churches in other cities around the world will be doing likewise, and, if so, whether British gay couples might be able to go along to the one in London, for example?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Thursday, 22 October 2009 at 9:20pm BST

I may be wrong on this and stand to be corrected but I thought that England was in communion with Sweden (at least up till now...) via Porvoo but not with the US Lutherans who are in Communion with TEC.

It's all got some wonderful potential for rupture and reunion in many unpredictable ways.

Interesting to see if Porvoo behaves with more sanity than the Anglican Communion over this or if England feels the need to pull out of it.

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Thursday, 22 October 2009 at 10:35pm BST

Don't worry, Charlotte, I do not think the C.of E. will be swimming the Tiber wholesale. F. i F. clergy will look at the pay options and will remain precisely where they are - that's my take. The rump of the pro-Roman set in the so-called Traditional Anglican Communion (led by a divorced and re-married Archbishop in Australia) may yet have problems integrating with the Papal Division.
English 'Traditionalists' will be looking at the likes of TAC and its scattered small communities around the world, and wondering what, after all, they have in common with them - except hatred of women and gays.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 22 October 2009 at 11:10pm BST

Charlotte, TEC is not in communion with the Church of Sweden.

Posted by: PeterK on Thursday, 22 October 2009 at 11:31pm BST

"More evidence - if any were needed- that the Pope's liferaft arrives just as the ship begins to sink"

Charming, Ed. You have just described a faith community's welcome and witness for the sacramental union of two individuals like me, who pledge lifelong commitment to each other, as being a sinking ship.

Just as a thought experiment in cultivating Christ-like compassion and Christian caritas, may I suggest you try to imagine someone describing your own wedding to your beloved as being a sinking ship, and meditate upon that for a bit.

Posted by: Viriato da Silva on Thursday, 22 October 2009 at 11:51pm BST

TEC is in full communion relationship with the ELCA, which is a fellow member of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) with the Church of Sweden.

Anyone up for a game of six degrees of separation?

Posted by: David C on Friday, 23 October 2009 at 12:07am BST

The Church of Sweden has a valid apostolic succession which not even Rome doubts. So, if someone is a bishop in the Swedish Church, and then wants to join the Anglican rite, does that bishop have to be reordained?

If an Anglican bishop has been ordained by a Swedish bishop and then wants to join the Anglican Rite, does he have to be reordained?

Posted by: Ashpenaz on Friday, 23 October 2009 at 12:12am BST

PeterK, AFAIK TEC is in communion now with the Lutheran Church of Sweden through the Porvoo Agreement. The last TEC General Convention, however, approved an ecumenical process distinct from Porvoo and involving TEC only, intended to end in full communion between TEC and the Church of Sweden. If and when concluded, the result would be an arrangement similar to the one TEC currently has with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.

That is why I expect that the Church of England will be breaking communion soon with both TEC and the Lutheran Church of Sweden, and TEC, the Church of Sweden, and the ELCA will be in communion with one another shortly.

Posted by: Charlotte on Friday, 23 October 2009 at 1:01am BST

The Ayes have it. *Common sense gradually prevails.
And common humanity.

Love is the fulfilling of the law.

'Caritas Christi urget nos.'
* uncommon sense really I guess, spirit led ...

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Friday, 23 October 2009 at 4:31am BST

Thanks be to God---God bless the Lutheran Church of Sweden! :-D

[While Rome goes poaching for malcontents---a tiny minority of a tiny minority, to be sure!---the LCS is fishing for the great *masses* (pun intended) of Swedes, and Gospel inclusiveness and equality can only HELP them do so.]

Posted by: JCF on Friday, 23 October 2009 at 5:59am BST

I thought the Church of Sweden was part of the Porvoo agreement and in communion with the Church of England and churches of the Anglican communion?

Posted by: Robert Ian williams on Friday, 23 October 2009 at 7:04am BST

"More evidence - if any were needed- that the Pope's liferaft arrives just as the ship begins to sink" - Ed Tomlinson -

Ed, What makes you think the Pope needs a liferaft? I knew Venice was slowly sinking, but I wasn't aware of the Tiber overflowing its banks.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 23 October 2009 at 9:25am BST

The Porvoo Agreement is only between the Anglican Churches of the British Isles and (most of) the Scandinavian and Baltic Lutheran Churches. It is not an agreement with the whole Anglican Communion.

Posted by: MJ on Friday, 23 October 2009 at 9:51am BST

The Porvoo Agreement is between the Church of Sweden and the Church of England (not the Anglican Communion, which I don't believe has a means of making an agreement to be in communion with a church) - so clergy from one church can serve in the other. Since bishops have oversight over a territory (except in a certain sense the Bishop in Europe and the Bishop of the American Convocation in Europe, since they have oversight only so far as their own churches within Europe are concerned) I would think that bishops aren't per se interchangeable and, of course .... the Church of Sweden has women bishops.... Some clergy do have shared appointments between Porvoo churches and the C-of-E and I understand it works very well.

Posted by: Sara MacVane on Friday, 23 October 2009 at 10:10am BST

The Porvoo Churches are listed and displayed on a map at http://www.porvoochurches.org/

The Church of Sweden is in communion with the UK Anglican Churches (and with some other churches in the world). This does not mean that the Church of Sweden is in communion with all the churches of the Anglican Communion.

If the US and Canadian Anglican churches were to join up to Porvoo at some time in the future, along with anyone else who was interested, it might provide an interesting strong communion of churches with shared values, in contrast to the other Communion that some of us belong to.

Posted by: Kelvin Holdsworth on Friday, 23 October 2009 at 10:29am BST

I wouldn´t exclude the possibility that the Church of Sweden is excluded from the Porvoo agreement. The Baltic lutheran churches are definitely on the traditionalist side, and the churches in Finland and Norway aren't nearly as progressive as the C of S.

Posted by: Swedish Lutheran on Friday, 23 October 2009 at 11:19am BST

Swedish Lutheran: the Church of Norway is currently working on a liturgy for same-sex couples, though, and a number of Norwegian priests are performing such marriages in church already http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/2009/09/15/norway-the-gay-issue-6/

Iceland and Finland are both heading in the same direction, though it does seem that the issue has come up more recently in Finland than the other Scandinavian countries. The word on the street in Denmark is that the new Bishop of Copenhagen wants to bring the Danish Church into Porvoo soon too. I think it's obvious that all the Scandinavian countries will have same-sex church marriage within, say, 5 - 10 years: and I would predict it in the C of E within, say, 10 - 15 years, given the current rapid rate of change in social attitudes, and the speed at which old homphobes are dying off.

Would anyone like to provide an alternative prediction?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Friday, 23 October 2009 at 12:03pm BST

Obviously, like most people here, I think this is a jolly good thing. I also think Ed's comment is cheap precisely in this sense: although he upholds traditional teaching on homosexuality (which is itself not dishonourable), there is a part of him (as he has admitted on this blog) which thinks 'liberal' on the issue. He is entitled, from his point of view, to regard the Swedish decision as wrong, but what he cannot do is represent it as final proof of theological degradation.

Posted by: john on Friday, 23 October 2009 at 12:13pm BST

You might want to send that liferaft over Lake Erie Ed, your Holy Church of Rome is closing FIFTY parishes here in the Cleveland area. Got to raise money to pay off those lawsuits for predatory priests!

Fifty parishes Ed. All to keep the world's largest closet open.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Friday, 23 October 2009 at 1:05pm BST

"If the US and Canadian Anglican churches were to join up to Porvoo at some time in the future"

The Canadian Church is already in communion with some North American Lutherans.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 23 October 2009 at 1:05pm BST

THanks for the clarification of the Porvoo Agreement. My understanding is that the separate process initiated by TEC is intended to bring TEC into full communion with the Porvoo Churches. We are already in full communion with the ELCA.

I have no doubt that the Church of England will now break communion with Sweden, just as they have rejected TEC. We have been told we will be rejected even if we sign the Anglican Covenant. Well, they don't need us. Sydney can pay for the next Lambeth; they're a rich diocese. Plus there will be all those profits from the C of E's participation in that big Manhattan condo conversion.

So, fine. The Church of England can break communion with the Swedish Lutherans, turn its back on TEC, recognize ACNA instead, drive out its gay clergy and hobble its women bishops, all because they threaten its ecumenical process with Rome. Let the C of E see where their strategy gets them.

Posted by: Charlotte on Friday, 23 October 2009 at 1:22pm BST

"The Church of Sweden has a valid apostolic succession which not even Rome doubts."

Which is why, at the beginning of TEC, we contemplated having Swedish bishops consecrate our first bishop. In the end, we sent Samuel Seabury to the non-jurors in Scotland.

And I may well be wrong, but I believe a Swedish bishop was present at +Gene's consecration - not sure if he laid hands or not.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Friday, 23 October 2009 at 3:06pm BST

“Sydney can pay for the next Lambeth; they're a rich diocese. Plus there will be all those profits from the C of E's participation in that big Manhattan condo conversion.”-- Charlotte

My understanding is that Sydney finances are not what they once were. While all the Anglican Churches have lost money because of the Great Recession, Sydney was particularly hard hit because of Jensenite financial ineptness. They liked to think of themselves as “THE world's richest and largest Anglican diocese” (questionable in any case). Yet they have lost more than $A100 million (their $A265 million assets are now worth $A105 million) and they are presently investigating ways to cut programs and ministries across Sydney. Two years ago they were able to allocate $A30 million to educate new clergy, to “spread the Gospel” (i.e., spread their brand of Calvinist Puritanism). But returns from investments have plummeted so steeply that the funds available next year have been slashed to $A5.6 million.

Posted by: Kurt on Friday, 23 October 2009 at 4:06pm BST

Charlotte seems to think that the CofE is on a fast track to excluding TEC, along with the Church of Sweden, because of the anti-WO/anti-committed relationship gays ordination Anglicans scheme launched by the ultraorthodox hierarchy in the Church of Rome.

My belief is that the move by Pope Benedict will help the CofE to realize that the ABC's program of caving in to the ultraorthodox in England was bound to fail, and that restoring the Anglican Communion to its traditional Broad Church roots, including the English part of the AC,is what will help us to reenergize Anglicanism.

The follow-on effect, from the view of a former RC (33 years ago), is that more and more Vatican II oriented Roman Catholics will come to see Anglicanism as their proper home.

Posted by: Jerry Hannon on Friday, 23 October 2009 at 4:46pm BST

Ashpenaz, you wrote: "The Church of Sweden has a valid apostolic succession which not even Rome doubts."

Not so. Although the Anglican churches consider Sweden (and episcopates deriving from Sweden, which include now ELCA in part) as having preserved the historic episcopate, Rome and Orthodoxy consider the apostolic succession to have been ruptured in Sweden during the Reformation (as Rome considers happened in England too, which some but not all churches of Orthodoxy have agreed with over the years).

"So, if someone is a bishop in the Swedish Church, and then wants to join the Anglican rite, does that bishop have to be reordained?"

As just noted, Rome does *not* recognize the Swedish succession, so emphatically, yes, reordination and reconsecration (which Rome would view as simply ordination and consecration), assuming the bishop even met Rome's other criteria (i.e., male, not married).

"If an Anglican bishop has been ordained by a Swedish bishop and then wants to join the Anglican Rite, does he have to be reordained?"

Ditto, for the reasons above.

Outside of itself, Rome (whether de jure or de facto) only recognizes the following orders as valid: Eastern Orthodox; Oriental Orthodox; Old Catholic / Union of Utrecht (but ambiguous regarding "independent"/"Old" Catholic lines deriving therefrom, and assuming no break by, say, a female bishop); and the Duarte Costa / Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church line (and its derivatives, but again, assuming no break by, say, a female bishop).

And re the "Dutch touch," under which Union of Utrecht Old Catholic bishops have for decades participated in CoE consecrations, and for several decades bishops of former Union of Utrecht member the Polish National Catholic Church participated in U.S. Episcopal consecrations, with the object of spreading within Anglicanism a line viewed as valid by Rome even while not conceding Rome's previous judgment that Anglican orders (sans the "Dutch touch") were "absolutely null and utterly void": The RCs have in recent years unambiguously reaffirmed that judgment, so apparently the "Dutch touch" matters not at all to them, although I have yet to see a theological justification as to how they can continue to recognize (non-female-inclusive) Utrecht lines but not the Anglican/Episcopal lines that derive in part from them.

Posted by: Virirato da Silva on Friday, 23 October 2009 at 5:28pm BST

In the 19th century, Swedish Lutherans who had emigrated to the US were advised to attend Episcopal parishes if one was available -- as unlike the US Lutherans, the Swedes were assured the succession had been maintained, and staffed with real live bishops. At a very early stage (I don't recall the date, but I once owned a copy) the American BCP was actually published in Swedish precisely to deal with the immigrant population. For a time the "Red Book" or Church Directory listed TEC in communion with the C of S. There was no formal communion arrangement, however, merely courteous engagement. (Krister Stendahl was a co-consecrator of Gene Robinson.) We are now engaged in making it formal.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Friday, 23 October 2009 at 5:30pm BST

"If the US and Canadian Anglican churches were to join up to Porvoo at some time in the future, along with anyone else who was interested, it might provide an interesting strong communion of churches with shared values, in contrast to the other Communion that some of us belong to."

I have said it here before and will say it again: We should work toward a worldwide communion of theologically progressive or "big tent," liturgical, "Reformed Catholic" churches that preserve (or agree to receive) the historic episcopate. And if Canterbury chooses not to sign on, well, Utrecht and Uppsala are both venerable, ancient sees which likewise could serve as "primi inter pares" and visible signs of historic continuity with earlier eras of the Church Catholic.

Whether built organically on Porvoo and the North American Anglican-Lutheran agreements plus the Anglican - Old Catholic full communion agreements, or built upon a clean slate, logical founding members of such a communion might include:

TEC
ACCanada
ELCA
ELCIC
All of the Union of Utrecht Churches
Scottish Episcopal Church
CoE [hopefully!]
Church of Ireland [hopefully!]
Church in Wales
Anglican Church in Southern Africa
Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil
Anglican Church of Mexico
Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia
Anglican Church of Australia [hopefully; albeit Sydney would never participate]
Iglesia Episcopal de Cuba
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland
Church of Norway
Church of Sweden
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland
Church of Denmark

Not a bad start...and with any luck, the United Methodists (who have bishops and have been open to receiving the historic episcopate) and the British Methodists (who don't have bishops but have been looking into receiving the historic episcopate) could be brought in as well.

So why do we expend so much energy to hold the AC together, when more logically aligned communions may far better advance mission?

Posted by: Viriato da Silva on Friday, 23 October 2009 at 5:58pm BST

Sorry, Kurt, I guess my attempt to signal irony across the Internets has failed yet again! Yes, I had heard that the Diocese of Sydney had made some unwise investments and lost even more money than most of the rest of us have lost in this market. Archbishop Jensen has been wondering aloud whether God is punishing him for something. And in fact, God is punishing him -- for making some unwise investments.

Jerry Hannon, I hope you are right about the Church of England's future direction, but I haven't seen or heard anything recently to encourage me to think you are right. Ruth Gledhill announced breathlessly some months ago that "the liberal fightback had begun," and a couple of popguns went off, and that was that. No, I think TEC will be pushed out, and at this point, we're better off out. The C of E will not be better off without us, but they will have to figure that out on their own.

Posted by: Charlotte on Saturday, 24 October 2009 at 1:33am BST

"The follow-on effect, from the view of a former RC (33 years ago), is that more and more Vatican II oriented Roman Catholics will come to see Anglicanism as their proper home." - Gerry Hannon

And there are many of these (Vatican II -ers) - including presently serving priests, who no doubt will now be eyeing the new 'Ordinariates' with a view to leaving the Latin Rite behind, making proposals of marriage, and after a while, joining one of the 'Ordinariates'. That is - unless Rome starts to vet just who can join up!

OR, of course they might just be happy to joint the Anglican Communion, with the possibility of being able to preach the inclusive Gospel without let or hindrance from the absolutism of Rome.

Eclessian Anglicana may just end up with more priests than it knows what to do with, while

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 24 October 2009 at 5:46am BST

The Roman counter argument re Swedish Apostolic Succession is amusing. It amounts to a reference to post Tridentine Cardinal Bellarmin, who sometime in the early 17th century stipulated that the Bishop of Rome was the Sign of Unity, and says that those that do not have the Bishop of Rome as Pope do not have this Unity. I have heard this personally at Lund University.

The argument from Calvinist leaning anti Moderns on the other hand, is that Bishop Påvel (Paul) Juusten (*c.1516) of Viborg (1554), later Åbo/Turkku (1563 †1575) was merely ordained by 1 Bishop (Strängnäs, the one remaining) not 3, as customary.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Saturday, 24 October 2009 at 6:54am BST

Virirato..... King arthur holding any sword does not make exacilbur. The participation of OC bishops in Anglican lines of succession has always been using the Anglican ordinal and any additional words used f by them are thought to be vitiated by the context and setting.

In the case of Graham leonard he entered into a written agreement with a participating OC bishop ( wo said additional words at his Anglican consecrattion )and hence the condional ordination...but still a doubt existed.

The union of Utrecht now ordains women and it will be interesting to see how long Rome will unequivocally accept their male priests.

Posted by: Robert Ian williams on Saturday, 24 October 2009 at 8:21am BST

Viriato, forty or so years ago the church of England talked about a`"Wider Episcopal fellowship" Im not sure whether it was ever something official, but it was talked about. Not sure when talk of it was dropped.

Posted by: Perry Butler on Saturday, 24 October 2009 at 9:08am BST

The Church of Sweden is in communion with the Swedish Mission Covenant Church, which is non-episcopal. Intercommunion is not associative: if A is in communion with B and B is in communion with C, it does not follow that A is in communion with C. The mutual recognition promised by Porvoo is currently impaired in (at least) the following ways (1)Swedes confirmed by their parish priest, as is the usual practice, who wish to seek ordination in the Church of England, have to be reconfirmed; (2) Swedish priests who were ordained by women bishops are not eligible for service in the Church of England. Yet "We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church" and trust that by the grace of God we are all members and local expressions of that church.

Posted by: Barbara Moss on Saturday, 24 October 2009 at 10:43am BST

RIW, Graham Leonard's consecration was in no way unique or different from that of the other "Dutch Touch" conescrations. See http://www.northernbishop.com/articlesnews/otherarticles/dutchtouch.htm; see also http://liturgicalnotes.blogspot.com/2008/12/apostolicae-curae.html

The first link makes for you the weak Roman argument regarding how this taking place within the overall Anglican ordinal itself somehow magically ignores that proper form, matter, and intent were all present, but reiterates the fact that the OC consecrators used the Roman Pontifical's form.

So for Rome to be consistent, if x+Leonard merited at least sub conditione from them (and no diaconal (re)ordination either, btw), so too should all holders of CoE orders whom the Dutch Touch had reached (and, assuming no alleged "break" by a woman bishop's touch, all such holders of Anglican orders outside the CoE).

For those of us who believe Anglican orders valid even in the absence of the Dutch Touch, and women not improper "matter," this is all akin to debating the precise number of angels dancing on the head of this or that pin. But please, if you are going to argue it, get the facts straight. Leonard's Anglican orders were conferred no differently than those of any other Anglican recipient of the Dutch Touch.

Now, as to PNCC participation in ECUSA/TEC ordinations until the PNCC broke full communion over WO, your argument would be stronger, inasmuch as the PNCC bishops seem not to have used the Roman Pontifical form but the ECUSA one, nor did they sign the documents as to intent. Can't dig up my source for that this minute, but apparently 'twas so.

Posted by: Viriato da Silva on Saturday, 24 October 2009 at 5:57pm BST
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