Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox Churches ’Sad’ That Lutherans Embrace Marriage Equality

by Kilian Melloy
Wednesday Oct 28, 2009

Catholic and Orthodox representatives have given voice to their "sadness" that Lutheran gay and lesbian families are being treated with equality by their faith.

Anti-gay religious Web site LifeSiteNews reported that Swedish representatives of the other faiths released a joint statement saying that they were cast into "sadness" by "the decision by the synod of the Church of Sweden" to extend official recognition to same-sex families by making it church policy to bless their unions.

The church had already been blessing same-sex unions for some time, but the Synod's vote made the church's welcoming stance official and allowed those unions to be viewed as marriages within the church.

By contrast, the statement from the Catholics and Orthodox read, "In our churches and communities, we will not unite homosexual couples since it is in complete contradiction with the tradition of the church and our vision of creation," the LifeSiteNews article reported.

The statement went on to lambast Sweden's Lutheran church, saying that the decision to embrace gay and lesbian families "is a swing away not only from Christian tradition but also from the point of view on the nature of marriage which is typical of all religions."

The statement went on to warn that, "this decision of the Church of Sweden widens the gap" between the faiths.

Some conservative Lutherans voices similar opprobrium. The article quoted Bishop Hans Stiglund, who said, "In my way of looking at it marriage is defined as a relation between man and woman with no room for a relation between partners of the same sex."

Although he supported the outcome, Lutheran Archbishop Anders Wejryd expressed understanding for those who did not, saying, "For my part, the right decision was taken, but I can empathize with the many who believe this has gone too fast."

As reported Oct. 22 at EDGE, the measure originated in June with a petition from the governing board of the Church of Sweden, and was approved by the Lutheran Synod, with a majority 176 votes out of the 249 voting members. The vote took place just three days after the thirtieth anniversary of the removal of homosexuality from the list of pathologies in Sweden.

The decision also follows in the wake of marriage equality being granted to gay and lesbian Swedish families by the Swedish government. The new law took effect last May.

Swedish GLBT leader Åsa Regnér, who heads the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education, said, "The Synod's decision takes a stance in favor of an inclusive view of people. Regardless of whether one is religious or not, this affects the entire social climate and the view of people's equal value."

Pastors opposed to performing marriages for same-sex couples may opt out.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


  • , 2009-10-28 11:20:05

    It is interesting that in stating their sadness was because gay marriage is against the traditions of the church and their understanding of marriage, there was no mention of scripture. Is this a sign of recognition that the Swedish Lutherans, like others who ahve approached the matter after study and prayer rather than reflex bigotry, have found that many Scripture scholars today believe that the traditional interpretation of Scripture is mistaken. This is good news. A little more reflection and they even begin to realise that history shows that "tradition", too is not quite what they claim. Both the Western church and the Eastern Orthodox have in the past recognized liturgical rites for blessing same sex unions in church, and have recognized some gay lovers as saints. (Sergius & Bacchus for one example. There are also others.)

  • , 2009-10-28 12:05:30

    I have a better idea: Why don’t other churches butt out of the Lutherans’ business?

  • wimsy, 2009-10-28 14:02:23

    By what arrogant, self-absorbed "vision" do these cults exercise the right to express their reactions to another church’s position? Are they "sad" as well that the Lutherans don’t kiss the Pope’s ring? Or ass?

  • , 2009-10-28 16:52:58

    They are sad because all these churches had been in deep discussions for decades on reunification. This announcement will be percieved as a step backwards in that goal.

  • , 2009-10-29 00:16:21

    The gap between these faith raditons was already too wide and now is even wider with the Lutheran decission. So what is not to be sad about when all were working so hard toward unity?

  • , 2009-10-29 16:42:30

    This is so sad. Telling someone else’s church that you don’t like their belief system. Not only is the Catholic church now being homophobic, its also being anti other religions! How sad. For more reasonable reads on this subject and more, check out:

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