Oslo in row over lesbian priest

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The Independent Online
A Norwegian lesbian priest who "married" her lover in defiance of church rules triggered a storm of controversy in parliament yesterday.

The Prime Minister, Kjell Magne Bondevik, a priest in the state Lutheran church, defended the Church Affairs Minister, Jon Lilletun, for saying Siri Sunde should resign. "I don't think it's improper for the minister to react now," he said, adding that Mr Lilletun "also made clear that the church itself would deal with this".

Mr Bondevik also noted that Bishop Rosemarie Kohn, Norway's first female bishop, who ordained Ms Sunde, felt she had broken a promise by entering a legal gay marriage. Norway's church allows women to become priests but bars active gays, defined as those living with a homosexual partner.

Mr Lilletun said Ms Sunde, who has been suspended pending a ruling by the church, should resign. Left-wing MPs criticised Mr Lilletun for giving his blessing to the church's opposition to homosexuality when laws banned discrimination against gays in hiring and firing employees.

- Reuters, Oslo