Saturday, 9 June 2012
Denmark: Same-Sex Marriages in Church
From Politiken.dk: Homosexuals get church weddings
The Danish Folketing has voted overwhelmingly in favour of a full ecclesiastical marriage service in the national Evangelical-Lutheran church for homosexual couples, to be instituted as a full, official marriage equal to that of heterosexual couples.
After a lengthy and sometimes heated debate, which ran some three hours over its expected time, 85 members voted in favour of the law, 24 against and with two abstentions.
Homosexuals in Denmark have not hitherto been able to enter into marriage, but only into registered partnerships. The new law means that homosexual couples can choose whether to be married in church or at a town hall.
Both the Liberal and Conservative parties removed their party whips for Thursday’s vote due to internal differences, leaving the decision to their individual members’ convictions.
Minister for Ecclesiastical Affairs Manu Sareen (SocLib), who has used much of his ministerial tenure to develop and defend the proposal, says the parliamentary decision is historic.
“This is along the lines of when we got women priests. I am really happy. It is something all three government parties have wanted for many years,” Sareen says…
and in the Telegraph: Gay Danish couples win right to marry in church
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on
Saturday, 9 June 2012 at 6:43pm BST
The country’s parliament voted through the new law on same-sex marriage by a large majority, making it mandatory for all churches to conduct gay marriages.
Denmark’s church minister, Manu Sareen, called the vote “historic”.
“I think it’s very important to give all members of the church the possibility to get married. Today, it’s only heterosexual couples.”
Under the law, individual priests can refuse to carry out the ceremony, but the local bishop must arrange a replacement for their church.
The far-Right Danish People’s Party mounted a strong campaign against the new law, which nonetheless passed with the support of 85 of the country’s 111 MPs…
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
One would expect the 'Far right' parties to oppose Same-Sex Marriage, that is par for the course. What is interesting to me is whether or not the Danish Evangelical Lutheran Church is part of the PORVOO community of European Churches, with which the Church of England has a special relationship. How would this affect the C.of E.?
The Bishop of Copenhagen has stated that intends to be one of the first to perform a same-sex marriage ceremony in his cathedral next weekend: several other bishops are doing likewise. The bishops have come up with the wording of the rite to be used for same-sex marriages very quickly – it is to be published tomorrow (11th June) in time for immediate use once the Queen has signed the bill to come into law on 15th.
It all rather puts the C of E, with its constant dithering, delaying tactics and staving off the inevitable, to shame, doesn’t it? Needless to say, the Church of Denmark is in full communion with the Church of England through the Porvoo Agreement, meaning that our sacramental ministries are supposedly interchangeable…
Are Danish same sex marriages recognised in the UK or elsewhere as marriages? One of the arguments for inclusive marriage in the UK (which I support) is that Civil Partnerships aren't recognised abroad.
'Eucharist hospitality is an important factor in the Porvoo communion and to quote the statement the churches acknowledge:
- that in all our churches the Word of God is authentically preached, and the sacraments of baptism and the eucharist are duly administered;
and commit themselves:
'to welcome one another's members to receive sacramental and other pastoral ministrations;
to regard baptized members of all our churches as members of our own;'
Recognition of baptized members of the Danish Lutheran as members of the C of E does not mean an obligation to solemnise, nor recognise a marriage ceremony solemnised through the forms of another member church.
Just to be clear the document continues: 'The Porvoo churches agree on certain fundamental issues, but Porvoo is not a new confession. The churches maintain their identities, anglican and lutheran.' I presume that the last sentence explains what happens, as in the case of gay marriage, when they don't agree: http://www.porvoochurches.org/whatis/resources-0201-english.php
David Shepherd: "Recognition of baptized members of the Danish Lutheran as members of the C of E does not mean an obligation to solemnise, nor recognise a marriage ceremony solemnised through the forms of another member church."
Interesting. What does "in full communion" mean, if it is not that we recognise each other's sacraments, viz. baptisms, confirmations, ordinations, marriages, etc? Wouldn't recognising some sacraments but not others in fact be a statement of being in partial or impaired communion, i.e. not what the Porvoo Agreement is about at all?
All sorts of wonderful messes are created by the C of E fast becoming one of the few Porvoo churches not to make any liturgical provision for its partnered gay members - the Church of Sweden, Church of Norway, Church of Iceland and now also Church of Denmark marry same sex couples in church. In each of these countries, the Church of England chaplaincies are licensed for marriages by the state, are they not? So, according to the law of the respective lands, they must be able to solemnise same-sex marriages validly too.
And if I were to marry my Danish partner in a Danish church, then what would my marital status subsequently be, according to the Church of England?
Hmm, 28% of the ordinary Danish clergy (~560 of 2000) are against blessing gay relationships but only one Bishop has spoken out against gay marriage.
Has the Danish church suffered the sort of liberal power grab that seems to have happened in Southwark? (and may be underway for the next ABofC - as there seems to be a campaign afoot to stop any evangelical and instead appoint +Norwich - replacing the last liberal with another liberal - as a "compromise" candidate!!
The United Kingdom recognizes legal marriages of same-sex couples only as civil partnerships. But civil partnerships of same-sex couples are not necessarily recognized even in countries which have full marriage equality. Spain, for example, does not recognize civil partnerships. Marriage is a more general term and easier to get recognized. New York State, where I live, recognizes marriage but not civil partnerships.
Civil marriages have portability, at least in theory, while civil partnerships generally do not. Civil partnerships are generally only recognized in jurisdictions which have some kind of equivalent, such as domestic partnership in California, and civil unions in Illinois. Marriage, on the other hand, exists in every jurisidction.
Gary Paul Gilbert
The Danish Reformation was not iconoclastic, like the English and the country has some real gems of pre-Reformation churches. The Danish Church only joined Porvoo belatedly, as they refuse to accept that a participation of an Anglican bishop in future consecrations brings extra validity. Their ministerial orders derive from an apostate Catholic priest, Bugenhagen in the sixteenth century and they make no pretence to having an historic episcopate. Apparently the Church of Denmark have had women priests since 1948.
"Interesting. What does "in full communion" mean, if it is not that we recognise each other's sacraments, viz. baptisms, confirmations, ordinations, marriages, etc?"
Would that not depend on what we mean by "recognition"?
We "recognise" that TEC has women bishops without having them here and we did not treat Katherine Jefferts-Shori as a full bishop when she came here.
In our own church we "recognise" that we have women priests but we create sections where they legally don't exist.
And some priests refuse to bless marriages of divorcees because they don't "recognise" them.
According to UK law the churches recognise Civil Partnerships, and same sex marriages from other countries as civil partnerships.
So same sex marriages conducted in a Danish church will be recognised just as any Civil Partnership is recognised in Britain.
What will it mean to anyone in practice whether the CoE "recognises" Danish same sex marriages? What will it mean to a Danish married same sex couple worshipping in a British church?
RevDave: "Has the Danish church suffered the sort of liberal power grab that seems to have happened in Southwark?"
Funny how reactionary Christians and others so often use the language of "power-grabs" and being "taken over" when all that is happening is that their institutions are catching up with the normal attitudes of the rest of society - it speaks volumes about the kind of fear that lurks behind that mentality.
The reason that the Church of Denmark's leadership has come round to accepting the inevitable is that public opinion in Denmark is very much in favour of the change in the law. The bishops are elected by, potentially, all the members of the Church (i.e. some 85% of the population) in the diocese, every four years. Every church member has an equal vote.
This means that their bishops have to be very much more accountable and in touch than those in the C of E. Their bishops are consequently far less pompous and secretive than in the C of E. I wish we had the same system in England: it would change our culture of bishop as big feudal baron very much for the better.
RevDave: - "Has the Danish church suffered the sort of liberal power grab that seems to have happened in Southwark?"
You mean, Dave, as opposed to the conservative 'power-grab' that has been attempted by the with-holders of lawful revenue from the Diocese of Southwark? Nothing so revolutionary!
And R.I.W. We'd better not get into slanging matches about where authority was derived from whom on issues of Church Leadership. Rome cannot claim 100% purity of derivation - for instance, in the time of the dual papacy of Avignon & Rome.
But RevDave as you probably know Danish members of a parish who are at odds with the teaching, beliefs or gender of their minister can withdraw their tax and along with other like minded souls form a non geographical community that pays for a priest whom they want, or they can pay that tax to an existing community that supports their views. So any "grab" either way can be circumvented.
Bearing this in mind - these figures look even more surprising in the percentage in favour.
Though as I remember there was some controversy about a bishop trying to maintain a "pure" stream of orders untouched by women some years ago.
Bugenhagen in the sixteenth century and they make no pretence to having an historic episcopate. Apparently the Church of Denmark have had women priests since 1948.'
Who needs the pretence of the so-called 'historic episcopate' ?
Thank God the Danes held out against Anglican arrogance, and upheld the validity of their own ministers.
Being ordained by a bishop does NOTHING to validate any ministry. I would rather go to a Brethren Breaking of Bread with no ordained minister or a Salvation Army meeting, than some acts of worship which seem all show and no life - whether conservative Evangelical, or too ritualistic for their own (& our ?) good !
"all that is happening is that their institutions are catching up with the normal attitudes of the rest of society" - I'm not sure that is exactly what the church is supposed to be doing??
As for recognising sacraments - last time I checked there were only two!
Matthew: if the normal attitudes of the rest of society are more Christian than those of institutional churches, then of course it is good that the churches catch up. It doesn't follow that, just because something is called "church" its morality is any better, or indeed any more Christian, than that of the wider society, does it, sadly? At least that has been my experience as a Christian who happens to be gay.
Yes, the Danish Church only thinks there are two sacraments, as they are real Protestants, which is why they do real Protestant things like updating church structures in the light of the Gospel imperatives to treat people equally... unlike our own Evangelicals, who seem not to be Protestant at all when it comes to maintaining mediaeval Catholic ecclesistical power structures. Odd, isn't it?
Sorry Ron, you confuse orders with jurisdiction. Orders are a sacrament which comes from God, but jurisdiction is mediated via the Holy See on behalf of God.
Sacraments can be celebrated licitly within His Church or illicitly outside, but jurisdiction is another matter.
Fr Ron Smith: Diocesan quota is an entirely voluntary contribution which the diocese has no legal entitlement to whatsoever, so your comments about withholding lawful revenue are misplaced.
RIW: "Orders are a sacrament which comes from God, but jurisdiction is mediated via the Holy See on behalf of God."
Erm, not in the Church of England, it isn't, nor in the Church of Denmark. The Roman Catholic Church in Denmark, where that may well be the case, is currently in very hot water indeed over the latest revelations regarding the bishop's cover-up of clerical child abuse, by the way...
"Their ministerial orders derive from an apostate Catholic priest, Bugenhagen in the sixteenth century and they make no pretence to having an historic episcopate. ".
True Robert. But the Poorvoo Communion is undergirded by a theological understanding of Apostolicity which understands it to be far richer than "tactile succession" ( which in its most jejune form is historically untenable) and which probably more nearly represents the position of the Church of England before the mutation of high church thinking that occured with the oxford Movement.