The regional news service Lännen Media reported Sunday that Pappisliitto, the organisation representing Lutheran priests has said that it is preparing to defend clerics in court, if they perform marriage rites for same-sex couples.
"If a member needs legal aid for example, he will receive assistance," said association head Jussi Junni.
The association’s precautions come in spite of a Church Council-commissioned legal report, in which law scholars said that a marriage cannot be annulled because it does not comply with church practices and requirements for a wedding. The Lutheran Church Council handed over the report at Lännen Media’s request.
Synod looking into court's views on punishing priests
The Lutheran Synod of Bishops also called on the Church Council to determine how a court of law would view cases in which the church sanctioned clerics who performed marriage rites for same-sex couples.
The clerics’ association said that what was previously a theological question has now become a service issue. The organisation said that it will discuss the matter in a meeting on Monday.
Lännen Media conducted a survey a few years ago in which fully one-third of priests said they would be willing to marry a gay couple. During the summer many priests said that they would be prepared to officiate at same-sex weddings as soon as new same-sex marriage laws take effect in March next year.
However in late August the Lutheran Bishops’ Synod declared that the church would only marry heterosexual couples and that priests would not perform same-sex marriages.