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Swedish priests reject gay church blessings

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21:06 CET+01:00
More than 400 Swedish Lutheran priests have posted an Internet message distancing themselves from an official Church decision to guarantee same-sex partners the right to religious blessings of their civil unions.

"We believe this decision is not in accordance with the order of communal life and marriage as revealed in the Word of God defining it as a relationship between man and woman," said a website statement.

"The Word of God does not authorise us to bless another type of relationship among couples," said the signatories, distancing themselves from the Church's new official position.

On October 27, the Lutheran Church said it would guarantee same-sex partners the right to religious blessings of their civil unions.

"The Church board has been given the task of working out a system for these homosexual partnership blessings ... The system will go into effect during 2006," said a spokeswoman.

Sweden's current law gives gay couples the same rights as married couples, but while the public commonly refers to gay unions as "marriages", they are in the eyes of the law officially called "partnerships".

The Church decision was taken at a congress by a majority of 160 delegates to 81 against, with eight abstentions.

Pastor Yngve Kalin published a "priest's statement" on his website on November 1st denouncing the Church decision.

By Friday evening, 416 priests had added their names to the site in support of the statement.


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