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米ルーテル教会が同性愛容認 年次総会で妥協案可決 (世界日報 2005/08/14)
Lutherans Affirm Ban on Gay Clergy
Evangelical Body Rejects Exception for Those in Committed Relationships
By Rachel Zoll
Saturday, August 13, 2005; Page A03
ORLANDO, Aug. 12 -- A national meeting of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America rejected a proposal Friday that would have allowed gays in committed relationships to serve as clergy under certain conditions.
The measure would have affirmed the church ban on ordaining sexually active gay men and lesbians, but it would have allowed bishops and church districts, or synods, to seek an exception for a particular candidate -- if that person was in a long-term relationship and met other restrictions.
Delegates voted against the measure 503 to 490. The proposal needed a two-thirds majority to pass.
Earlier in the day, delegates voted 851 to 127 to keep the church unified despite serious differences over homosexuality. They also rebuffed what many saw as an attempt to push the denomination toward approval of blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples.
All the proposals -- the product of three years' work by a special church task force -- were meant as a compromise that would satisfy both those who support gay clergy and those who regard gay sex as sinful. The measures, however, drew immediate opposition from Lutherans on both sides of the debate.
Conservatives said the ordination proposal would have effectively overturned prohibitions against non-celibate gays in the Lutheran ministry. Advocates for gays were not satisfied, either. They said the measure would have created a second-class roster for homosexual clergy in the church.
In a news conference immediately after the vote, Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson said he hopes gay men and lesbians did not take the vote as a sign they are not welcome in the church, which has 4.9 million members. "They are. We have said that publicly and clearly," he said.
New Jersey Synod Bishop E. Roy Riley, chairman of the church's Conference of Bishops, said the vote was a good indicator of what the entire church was thinking: "This church is not ready to make major changes in its ordination practices."
Lutheran gay advocates were angered. A coalition called Goodsoil accused the church of sacrificing gays "on the altar of a false and ephemeral sense of unity."
During the debate, Louis Hesse of the Eastern Washington-Idaho Synod said those arguing for gay ordination had not made a convincing theological or scientific argument on why they were right: "A Gospel of full acceptance, accepting everyone the way they are -- what does that say about sinfulness?"
But the Rev. G. Scott Cady of the New England Synod said rejecting gays who feel a call to ministry was tantamount to questioning the will of God. "We have vacant pulpits and altars in congregations all over this country," Cady said. "The Holy Spirit has said, 'All right, here they are. Here they are.' Are we going to now say, 'Thanks, Holy Spirit, but we prefer something else'?"
Disagreement over what the Bible says about homosexuality has torn at Protestant denominations for years. The Episcopal Church consecrated its first openly gay bishop two years ago, and Anglicans worldwide are struggling to remain unified.
Last month, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada voted against allowing local pastors to decide whether to bless same-sex couples. The other major U.S. Lutheran body, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, is staunchly conservative on gay issues.
chicagotribune.com >> Nation/World
Vote blocks non-celibate gay clergy
By Manya A. Brachear
Tribune staff reporter
Published August 13, 2005
ORLANDO -- More than 100 activists with rainbow-striped sashes draped around their necks streamed to the front of the Evangelical Lutheran Church Assembly on Friday and stood sentry in silence as the denomination's chief legislative body denied ordination to gays and lesbians in committed relationships.
The assembly also voted to encourage clergy and congregations to offer pastoral care for "all to whom they minister." An earlier proposal had specifically mentioned people in same-sex relationships, language that was interpreted as allowing pastors to conduct the informal blessing of gay unions without certain sanction.
Some gay-rights advocates said they resented the change in language--which passed 491-484 on an earlier vote--saying it stripped the proposal of its purpose and put pastors in jeopardy of censure if they perform the blessings.
"I feel . . . deleting the words `same-sex couples' negates the beginning of the resolution, which states that this church welcomes gay and lesbian persons into its life," said Thomas Salber of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod.
But others said the church should not encourage blessings of gay relationships.
"Pastoral care is not code language for blessing same sex-unions," said Rev. Carol Hendrix of the Lower Susquehanna Synod of central Pennsylvania, who opposed the proposal. "When it comes to blessing same-sex unions, the answer is no."
The assembly turned down the ordination proposal by a vote of 503-490, another snapshot of the deep divide in the 4.9 million-member church over issues of homosexuality. The proposals required approval by two-thirds of the assembly to take effect.
Rev. Paul Landahl, bishop of the Metropolitan Chicago Synod, said he was disappointed with the decision to maintain the policy of ordaining only those gays and lesbians who remain chaste, but grateful the assembly did not make the policy more restrictive.
"We welcome gays and lesbians, but only so far," he said. "So if you feel the gift of the spirit and the call to ministry, well, you're going to have to sit on that because our welcome doesn't include that. And that to me is offensive."
He expects issues of homosexuality to become a litmus test for the election of bishops in some of the nation's 65 synods, since it is up to bishops to uphold guidelines on same-sex unions and to ordain pastors. Some non-celibate gay pastors in the assembly have been sanctioned in the past, but others have not.
Acknowledging the lack of consensus in the assembly, voting members also elected "to concentrate on finding ways to live together faithfully in the midst of disagreements," an attempt to avoid the way that similar issues have torn at other mainline Protestant denominations.
But even that recommendation stirred contempt among some conservatives who believe homosexuality is a sin according to Scripture.
"The issue of unity should not even be coming before this assembly. We are or we aren't," said Lou Hesse, a dissenting member of the church's sexuality task force that developed the recommendations. "I reserve the right to say that unity must be broken."
Patrick Monroe, a voting member from the Southern Central Illinois Synod, supported the pledge, saying it echoed Christ's instructions in the New Testament.
"Jesus tells the disciples that our job is to gather in everyone," Monroe said. "Our job is not to judge one another. Our job is to love one another. . . . This motion allows us to move forward in that way, not just with sexual issues but with all issues."
Nan Dahlke, vice president of the Chicago Synod, said she found the votes to be encouraging signs of progress.
"It energized me to say we have work to do and let's stay in this," she said. "It's been a long walk. We just have to journey. We can keep going."
The assembly runs through Sunday.
The Evangelical Lutheran Church Assembly is the largest American Lutheran denomination. The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, separate and more theologically conservative, do not ordain homosexuals or women.
US: Lutherans reject "sexually active" gay clergy