Openly gay Swedish priest, Lars Gårdfeldt, declared Wednesday he would stop marrying heterosexual couples. The gay priest from a parish in Gothenburg made the declaration ahead of a church election on Sunday.
Although the Church of Sweden has allowed same-sex marriages since 2009, it allows priests with conscientious objections to refuse to perform a marriage.
Lars Gårdfeldt said he wanted to ‘show the absurdity of refusing marriage to two consenting adults’.
So, on Wednesday, he announced, “I stop marrying heterosexual couples.”
He later told Swedish radio he felt sad to no longer marry opposite-sex couples but wanted to draw attention to the church’s ‘theologically and ethically reprehensible’ position.
Lars called on the Church of Sweden to overturn the conscientious objection rule in order to protect the rights of same-sex couples.
“I want to fix the debate. We should not recruit new anti-gay priests. We should not ordain new priests who pass on the idea that homosexuals are inferior people.”
Sweden’s former state church, the Church of Sweden remains the country’s largest Christian denomination with nearly 6 million members.
Lars Gårdfeldt served as a closeted priest until Sweden’s 1995 Partnership Act allowed same-sex couples to register their partnerships. The Church of Sweden did not, at that time, move to allow church ceremonies. Despite that, when a gay couple asked Lars to marry them, he agreed. That began a long fight with his church that finally ended when the church agreed to allow same-sex weddings in 2009.
In the meantime, Lars married his now-former same-sex partner in Canada in 2006.
Currently, on sick leave, Lars Gårdfeldt hopes to return to work as soon as possible.
“As a priest, you never go home with the feeling “what a meaningless day”. It’s all the time on life and death, and the great thing about being close to people when life is serious. I long for that.”
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