Saturday, 12 December 2009

Denmark joins Porvoo Communion

Bishop David Hamid reports from Copenhagen on something other than climate change.

Read The Church of Denmark agrees to sign the Porvoo Agreement

…the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark (ELCD) has decided to join the Porvoo Communion of Churches. A press release from the Church of Denmark has gone to all the constituencies of that Church and to the general public in Denmark, announcing this landmark decision by the state Church. Arrangements for the public signing of the Porvoo Declaration are still to be settled. The ELCD was a full participant in the theological discussions leading to the Porvoo Common Statement in the 1990s, but in the end did not sign the agreement, so the news today is a major ecumenical breakthrough. Once signed the agreement will extend the Porvoo Communion of Churches to embrace the 12 dioceses and over 2000 parishes in Denmark.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 12 December 2009 at 11:51am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

Yes, this has been expected since the appointment of the new Bishop of Copenhagen this Summer. I have posted up the announcement of this in the main Danish church newspaper,

which says that they did not join in 1996 because of Danish unease at the British churches' continuing discrimination against women clergy. (Has this suddenly changed, one wonders?)

Following Sweden's law change to marriage equality this Summer, Denmark looks set to follow suit imminently - all major political parties and a big majority in the Church are in favour, and nothing riles Danes more than the thought of being left behind by the Swedes and Norwegians. (The Danish Church already offers a rite of public blessing for civilly-registered same-sex couples.)

Thus one wonders how long it will take before the C of E's Faith and Order bishops send a missive rapping the Danish Church over the knuckles for being too non-discriminatory (as they did to the Swedes), and warning direly of impaired communion?

The C of E is going to be the Last Great Defender of Inequality amongst the Northern European churches if it doesn't change direction soon... or maybe being the odd one out still won't stop C of E bishops from accusing everyone else of being the ones who are impairing communion?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Saturday, 12 December 2009 at 1:02pm GMT

Is there anything that would keep Churches outside of Europe from joining the Porvoo Communion?

Posted by: BillyD on Saturday, 12 December 2009 at 5:15pm GMT

Is there any information as to how the ELCD will receive (back) the use of the sign of the historic episcopal succession? (And btw, how is it being received back into the other Porvoo Lutheran churches that, unlike the Churches of Sweden and Finland, had stopped using it?)

Posted by: Viriato da Silva on Saturday, 12 December 2009 at 5:57pm GMT

This is the real new covenanting process in action, right in the global midst? Contrasts rather strikingly with Canterbury's new fangled conservative-no change-oriented global covenant, no? Will a little leaven from Porvoo permeate the whole second track new Anglican lump?

Posted by: drdanfee on Saturday, 12 December 2009 at 8:28pm GMT

I've never seen a definitive explanation of Denmark's hitherto failure to sign, but most of the theories I have heard centred on the province's low-church, Pietist streak rubbing up against the prominence accorded to bishops in Anglicanism, especially the C of E.

Posted by: Geoff on Sunday, 13 December 2009 at 12:52am GMT

The Episcopal succession is being introduced in other, more Lutheran, churches since a couple of decades now. Swedish bishops quite regularly attend other churches' installatons imposing hands... just as Lutheran bishops attend Swedish consecrations.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 13 December 2009 at 6:04am GMT

I'd be interested to know how the Danish Church came to this decision. Anyone know?

Posted by: Kelvin Holdsworth on Sunday, 13 December 2009 at 7:43am GMT

Kelvin: apparently, the bishops met together and voted unanimously to join.

The bishops are elected by popular suffrage - all paying members of the Dansk Folkekirke are eligible to vote, and 90% of ethnic Danes pay the church tax. Therefore, bishops' elections involve a certain amount of manifesto pledging beforehand, and the successful candidate for Copenhagen, who functions as something of a de facto primate, had intimated his desire to sign up to Porvoo if elected. It is thought here that the Religion Minister and The Queen probably also have to give their consent to joining Porvoo.

I'll keep scouring the Danish press for further details: there is a certain amount of sarcasm in the air from the public here about it. This is partly because anything that might compromise national sovereignty is a hot issue in Denmark; and partly because of Anglicanism's embarrassingly bad press on equality issues.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Sunday, 13 December 2009 at 12:32pm GMT

Could we adopt Porvoo as the new Covenanat for the anglican communion ?

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Sunday, 13 December 2009 at 6:33pm GMT

Samuel Seabury nearly went to Denmark to get episciopal consecration...when he could not get it in England.

The Danish Church makes no pretence to Apostolic succession and derives its orders from an apostate Ctholic priest.

Posted by: Robert Ian williams on Sunday, 13 December 2009 at 8:03pm GMT

And in that sense, RIW, you mean to say that virtually all the Reformation churches in Northern Europe were instituted by apostates? Let me now quote from the Council of Trent:

"If any one saith, that bishops are not superior to priests; or, that they have not the power of confirming and ordaining; or, that the power which they possess is common to them and to priests; or, that orders, conferred by them, without the consent, or vocation of the people, or of the secular power, are invalid; or, that those who have neither been rightly ordained, nor sent, by ecclesiastical and canonical power, but come from elsewhere, are lawful ministers of the word and of the sacraments; let him be anathema." (Canon VII on Orders)

Posted by: Ren Aguila on Sunday, 13 December 2009 at 10:50pm GMT

"The Danish Church makes no pretence to Apostolic succession and derives its orders from an apostate Ctholic priest."

I'm not sure what the point of this is, given the understanding of the historic episcopate in the Porvoo Churches. See

Posted by: BillyD on Sunday, 13 December 2009 at 11:50pm GMT

This is a matter for great joy. As a former Anglican Co-Chairman of the Porvoo Contact Group and one of the original signatories to the agreement on behalf of the Church of Ireland, I have very positive memories of the way in which the Danish Church maintained the highest degree of Communion possible with the other Porvoo Churches and participated in the life of the Porvoo Communion. It is good news that they now take their rightful position in this significant ecumenical alliance. Archbishop John Neill (Dublin)

Posted by: Archbishop John Neill on Wednesday, 16 December 2009 at 10:35am GMT

"The churches covered by this agreement have a great deal in common: their history, liturgy, identity and their understanding of the Church's mission today bear great resemblances. They are all episcopal churches and almost all of them are the national church and the continuing manifestation in its own land of the historic (western) Catholic Church.- Porvoo Declaration -

Thanks, BillyD, for the link. The above statement from the Porvoo web-site, may help Robert Ian Williams to understand the 'episcopal' nature of the alliance between British and Continental Reformed Catholic Churches, which together accept the role of 'Bishop' in their governance - but without the RCC cult of obedience to the Primacy of Peter, in the person of a reigning Pontiff.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 16 December 2009 at 8:53pm GMT

Fewer than 3% of Danes go to church on any given Sunday; those that do are disproportionately over 60 years old. Scandinavia, and north Europe in general, are the most secular part of the world. How can this be described as "major" in any real sense?
And a "State Church" in 2009? Even Spain, Italy and Portugal have separated church and state. Talk about a pointless anachronism.

Posted by: Brad Evans on Thursday, 17 December 2009 at 3:24am GMT

when is the CofE leaving Porvoo?

Posted by: Sharon on Thursday, 17 December 2009 at 3:26pm GMT

Brad Evans: "Fewer than 3% of Danes go to church on any given Sunday; those that do are disproportionately over 60 years old. Scandinavia, and north Europe in general, are the most secular part of the world."

The C of E's own figures (and who thinks they are not skewed in the Church's favour?) admit to a Sunday attendance of only 868,000 in 2007. Out of a population of 50 million in England, that comes in at rather less than the C of Denmark's 3% (in fact it is about half of the Danish Church's attendance. Nearly 90% of ethnic Danes pay a fairly hefty sum in Church tax annually: how many Christians in any other country are that committed?

I don't think Spain has quite a separation of Church and State, actually: isn't the Church in Spain still funded by the State? The Belgian RC Church likewise is funded by taxpayers' money, as are both Lutheran and RC churches in Germany; so also Switzeralnd and various other countries. England is perhaps unique in having a State Church which is not funded by the State.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Thursday, 17 December 2009 at 9:44pm GMT

Ho can the Church of England be in impaired communion when it already does not recognise the women bishops or their clergy!

Posted by: Robert Ian williams on Friday, 18 December 2009 at 8:39pm GMT

"Ho (sic) can the Church of England be in impaired communion when it already does not recognise the women bishops or their clergy!"
- Robert Ian williams

Is this a trick question, Robert; or merely another smack at the Anglican Church from a former, disaffected, member? I find your staccato posts quite disorientating - especially when this site is headed 'Thinking anglicans'

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 20 December 2009 at 9:07am GMT

It is for me personally, as a former participant in the talks leading to the formation of Porvoo, something of a God-given miracle. Danes have always seemed to me to be the the closest in national character to UK citizens and during the talks themselves they invariably made telling points. AS for the ordination of women to the episcopate, my belief is that no miracle is beyond the power of God. Laus Deo semper!

Posted by: Bishop Stephen Sykes on Tuesday, 12 January 2010 at 8:26am GMT

Re Fr Mark's comment on 17th December 2009 - Scotland has a state church not financed by the state - but then, many Anglicans seem to think that the Church of Scotland is not a Church, as it is not episcopal.

Posted by: Alan Hall on Sunday, 18 March 2012 at 4:44pm GMT
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