Informal Prayer for and with Persons Having Registered a Same-Sex Partnership. The Process in the ELCF and its Liturgical Implications M. Th. Ilmari Karimies Pastor, Doctoral Student Secretary to the Constitutional Committee of the General Synod Faculty of Theology, Systematic Theology
The Process on the Informal Prayer • Law on Registered Partnerships 2002 • Two motions for the General Synod in 2002 • Create an order for blessing • Ban people having registered a partnership from ecclesiastical offices • Both motions were defeated, but the Synod voted for to send the issue to the Bishops’ Conference for thorough theological and legal investigation • Committee set up by Bishops’ Conference 2003-2009 • Report: ”The Church and Registered Partnerships” • Report by the Bishops’ Conference for the General Synod in 2010
The Report of the Bishops’ Conference • Six Possible Alternatives • 1) Create and order for blessing the partnership and partners • 2) Create and order for prayer for the occasion, performed after the parnership is registered. Prayer would be for the persons, not for the partnership. • 3) Use the office for the blessing of a home • 4) Issue pastoral instructions on an informal prayer • 5) Issue pastoral instructions on that the issue should be dealth within private pastoral counselling • 6) Ban prayers for prayer same-sex partnership and persons having entered them • Bishops’ Conference suggested that option 4 would be the most tenable
The Report of the Bishops’ Conference • Background: Laws and regulations concerning liturgy • Church Law • Changed by the Synod with ¾ majority, subject to a veto by the Parliament • Church Order • Given by the Synod with ¾ majority vote • Agenda (Manual, Handbook) • Given by the Synod with ¾ majority vote • Instructions and clarifications on the use of the Agenda • Guidebooks and instructions by the Bishop’s Conference (simple majority) • Instructions given by Diocesan Chapter or Bishop • Choir regulations in a parish, given by Rector/Vicar
The Pastoral Instructions of the Bishops’ Conference • The Synod voted to ask the Bishop’s Conference to provide pastoral instructions, which were given in 2011 • The Informal Prayer • Can include preyer for and with the persons • Priest can pray freely or use material from the tradition of the Church • Biblical Texts can be read • can be private or communal • may be in a church building • may not constitute a blessing • may not include specific parts from the rite of matrimony or blessing thereof
Further Considerations • The prayer in total shall not constitute a liturgical office • The responsibility of the priest to not give a false impression of what is happening • The difficulty of defining what is informal prayer • Restrictions on liturgical freedom • The General Synod is the sole authority that can create liturgical formulas • Bishops’ Conferece can issue clarification and guidance • The principle of intention • During the process the commitee set up by the Bishops’ conference stated that the original intention of the Synod in creating liturgical formulas has to be observerd
Room for Liturgical Experimentation? • Introducing elements such as gestures and vestments? • The principle of intention can be read in support of additions that clarify the intention and nature of the office • Introducing new parts in the services? • Requires careful consideration • Precedents in guidebooks issued by the Bishops’ Conference • Introducing wholly new liturgical offices? • Also historical precedents • Criteria? Unanimity within the Church, accord with faith and confession?
Room for Liturgical Experimentation? • 1) Does the experiment rise from or at least is in accord with the Confession of the Church? • The criterion of Confession • 2) Does the experiment clarify or obscure the intention of the office it is brought into? • The principle of intention • 3) Does the experiment seem generally acceptable? • The principle of unanimity • 4) Has something already been said about it in some of the official documents? If not, consult the local rector/vicar and bishop.