International Lutherans «saddened and concerned» by Latvian church

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The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) said June 20 it was "deeply saddened" by a decision of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Latvia to ban the ordination of women among its clergy.

In a statement on the subject, LWF said it was "deeply saddened and concerned by the June 3 decision of the Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Latvia (ELCL)."

"The ELCL, which started women’s ordination in 1975, has by constitutional change now restricted the ordained ministry to men and thus has excluded women from full participation in the life of the church. We see this action by the ELCL as a step backward on the common path the LWF has followed for the past 32 years," the LWF statement said.

"While acknowledging that ordination is not a right, but rather a call, we also acknowledge that the restriction and exclusion of women’s gifts in and for the church serves to devalue all women and increases their discrimination in both church and society."

The restriction of ordination to men only had caused "pain and sadness" it added.

"Therefore, we urge the ELCL to reconsider their decision so that, together, we may walk again the path toward our shared goal of women in ordained ministry."

The LWF, formed in 1947 in the aftermath of World War II, is an umbrella organization of 145 churches in the Lutheran tradition, claiming to represent over 72 million Christians in 98 countries.


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