Bishop of Church of Norway welcomes LGBT delegation in Lutheran Catheral with Blessing Ceremony
A delegation of the Mr Gay Europe competition consisting of more than 20 LGBT and straight allies visited the Nidarosdomen Cathedral in Trondheim, Norway on Tuesday after an invitation by Bishop Tor Singsaas of the Diocese of Nidaros.
The cathedral is built on the burial ground of Saint Olaf and is the northernmost medieval cathedral in the world. It is well-known all over the world as the end destination of the Oslo to Trondheim pilgrimage.
On the insistence of the Bishop, the delegation was invited into the octagon at the site of the medieval high altar after a short history lesson, for a blessing ceremony which was a first and was symbolic of the church inviting LGBT people back into its fold. It is planned that gay marriages will be allowed in the Church of Norway from January 2017.
The delegation was invited to sit in the holiest of holies namely the so-called ‘Sacred Heart of Norway’, the octagon, whilst the bishop lit candles, whereafter a few minutes of personal prayer, meditation or silence followed.
Even the non-believers in the group testified that they were moved by the gesture.
Tore Aasheim, the president of Mr. Gay Europe said: ‘It was a powerful experience which holds a great symbolic importance for both us who were there and for all LGBT communities around Europe.
Having organized Mr Gay Europe for more than ten years now around Europe, it makes me really proud that the bishop of Nidaros showed us this powerful gesture. I know this meant a lot to all the delegates, especially those coming from countries where the religious leaders do not recognise LGBT rights.
Among the delegation was Coenie Kukkuk, a human rights lawyer from South Africa, who is acting as one of the judges of the competition who said: ‘This is a historic moment not only for LGBT and religious people in Norway but also the world. We hope that churches all over the world will follow with such ceremonies as both the churches, believers and the LGBT community purge the divisions of the past’.
The Mr Gay Europe competition has been running since Stockholm Pride over the past weekend and will conclude on Friday in Oppdal, Norway when the new Mr Gay Europe 2016 will be crowned.