Norwegian Bishop Asks the Pope for Permission to Refuse Civil Weddings

Photo credit: Jeff Belmonte via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Photo credit: Jeff Belmonte via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Oslo Bishop Berndt Eidsvig says he is asking permission from the Vatican to withdraw from participating in civil weddings altogether, after the Church of Norway agreed to start performing gay weddings. He says he’s taking this stance in part from concerns the government may start punishing those who refuse to perform civil gay weddings but mostly in order to clearly distinguish Catholic marriage from the emerging gay marriage system of thought:

“It’s clear we must distinguish our own Church marriages from others. This is a matter of liturgy, so it doesn’t necessarily reflect broader change in our society’s moral values,” said Bishop Eidsvig. “But politicians may now get aggressive toward churches who resist these weddings, so the best option is for us to stop conducting marriages on the state’s behalf,” he added.

First Things editor R.R. Reno and others have called for Christian churches in America to do the same.

Maggie Gallagher is a senior fellow at the American Principles Project and can be followed on Twitter @MaggieGallaghe.