Norwegian priest: Cohabitating clergy, get married




Photo Unsplash, Wedding Photography

The church should set a good example, also concerning relationships. Therefore, it is not suitable for unmarried cohabitants to be ordained as priests. That is the opinion of the Norwegian priest Kathrine Tallaksen.

In an opinion article in Dagen, she responds to some bishops who opened up the offices to unmarried cohabitants. In November, Oslo bishop Kari Veiteberg announced that she ordained cohabitants as priests, contrary to the official church order from 2017. Yet, Veiteberg received much support from her colleagues.

Kathrine Tallaksen is a priest in the Church of Norway herself as well. She points out that she often meets unmarried cohabitants who are in stable relationships. Still, she thinks "cohabitation as a social phenomenon is a bad idea."

One of the problematic sides of cohabitation, according to Tallaksen, is that the term encompasses both short-term, non-committed relationships as well as marriage-like relationships. "By ordaining cohabitants to priestly ministry, I believe that the impression will be that the church believes that cohabitation is okay. Period. That is not the kind of cohabitation guidance I want the church to give", she writes.

Instead, the Norwegian priest argues that the Church of Norway should advocate marriage more. "Show, don't tell, is one of the best communication principles out here", she continues. Therefore, priests should be role models who show young people that marriage is preferable over cohabitation, her opinion article reads.


Marriage is an important institution, Tallaksen believes. First, it is good, she says, for love to dare to choose, to close some doors, to put on some blinders; in short, commitment.

In addition, divorce and separation are harmful to children in a relationship. "It can make one disillusioned and ambivalent in relation to marriage, but also reinforce the desire for one's own cohabitation story to be different." She points to the rising numbers of young people with psychological problems. "It is not more freedom they long for, but security, joy, meaning and mastery. Thus, I think it is no longer the bourgeois morality of marriage that should be put on the dock, but our own time's way of doing things, including the deficit of committed, long-term relationships."

There might be cohabitants who live in a stable relationship that is not based on a lack of commitment, the priest acknowledges. Yet, she thinks it would be better for them to marry. "I think it is a win-win situation. Marriage corresponds to the dream people pray for. It is not only the marriage liturgy that reads that marriage is God's good gift. That is also written in people's hearts.

Therefore, the church should set a good example, Tallaksen concludes. "By maintaining marriage as the expected form of cohabitation for priests, the church can be a reminder that the good life can be found precisely in daring to make the choice."



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