Hanne Marie Pedersen-Eriksen, the theology student who Bishop Ingeborg Midttømme is refusing to ordain. Photo: Facebook
One of Norway's few female bishops has refused to ordain a lesbian theology student because she is set to marry her girlfriend next summer.
Ingeborg Midttømme, the bishop of More in western Norway, announced last week that she would not to be able to ordain Hanne Marie Pedersen-Eriksen, splitting the parish council in Sandøy, who had offered the student a job as pastor.
Norunn Blokkum, head of the parish council told the local Romsdals Budstikke that the issue needed to be dealt with carefully.
"This is a burning hot issue. Now we need to consider the situation carefully. We know what Bishop Ingeborg Midttømme stands for, it is no surprise that she will not ordain Pedersen-Eriksen,” she said. "The bishop decides, but of course we are very disappointed.”
Another member of the council told Vårt Land newspaper that she backed the bishop's decision.
"The bishop of Møre, Ingeborg Midttømme, is standing firm on the church doctrine on this matter, and now she is becoming the victim of intense pressure," Ingebrigtsdatter Austnes said.
However, after her refusal to ordain Pedersen-Eriksen was widely reported in Norway, Midttømme at the end of last week reluctantly agreed that one of Norway’s other bishops, who didn't share her view on the issue, could ordain Pedersen-Eriksen, potentially allowing her to take up her position in her diocese.
”We bishops have had a conversation tonight about how this is to be understood. It is well known that we have different views,” she told Vårt Land
. ” The fact that we live with two views in this matter gives us these consequences.”
The decision may lead to Pedersen-Eriksen serving under a bishop who refused to ordain her because of sexuality, making her hesitant to take up the position.
”Now that I have been offered the position if I want it, I need some time to let all of this sink in.” she told Vårt Land.
This is not the first time a lesbian priest has caused a stir. In 2013, Norway’s first lesbian priest left the church after 18 years because of homophobic attitudes on the part of the Bishop of Oslo, Ole Christian Kvarme.
”It has become untenable for me to represent a church where parts of it are still so exclusionary. It is not viable for me to be a priest in a church that is still considering whether my partner of 30 years and I can be married if we want to.” Hilde Raastad told Aftenposten
Midttømme is one of three woman bishops in the Lutheran Church of Norway. There are twelve bishops in total.