Church votes to allow gay pastors

Oslo, Norway - BISHOPS of Norway's Lutheran church voted by a close majority to allow gay pastors, a church official told a press conference.

The Bishops Conference, a seven-man and four-woman panel of 11 Norwegian bishops, voted six to five for the measure, said their official representative, Olav Skjevesland. The panel is a consultative body.

Theological doctrine currently followed in the Norwegian church officially excludes people living in the a homosexual union from officiating at services.

Another Norwegian theological consultative body, the 20-member Laerenemnd, met in January 2006, but could not agree a course of action.

At least two openly gay men currently serve as ministers after they were hired by liberal bishops.

The question must now be defined at the Lutheran church's next general Synod, the highest decision-making representative body, which will meet from November 12-17.