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Priests to be banned from calling God "he" or "the Lord" in bid to be gender neutral

Priests to be banned from calling God "he" or "the Lord" in bid to be gender neutral
The Church of Sweden, which is headed by a woman, made the decision during an eight-day meeting but not everyone is happy with the new rules.

Members of the clergy have been told to use gender-neutral when referring to God (Image: Image Source)

Nov. 25, 2017

Church clergy have been told to refer to God using gender-neutral language, dropping masculine words such as He and Lord.

The order came after more than 250 members of The Church of Sweden, which is a Evangelical Lutheran church, met to discuss ways of updating a 31-year-old handbook that sets out how services should be conducted.

The church is headed by a woman, Archbishop Antje Jackelen, who told Sweden's TT news agency the church had been discussing using more inclusive language since its 1986 conference.

Archbishop Antje Jackelen said the Church of Sweden has been discussing inclusive language since 1986(Image: AFP)

She said: "Theologically, for instance, we know that God is beyond our gender determinations, God is not human."

But not everyone is happy with the decision.

Christer Pahlmblad, an associate theology professor with Sweden's Lund University, told Danish newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad the move was "undermining the doctrine of the Trinity and the community with the other Christian churches."

He added: "It really isn't smart if the Church of Sweden becomes known as a church that does not respect the common theology heritage."

The new rules have been brought in by the Church of Sweden (Image: Universal Images Group Editorial)

The meeting lasted eight days and the decision was one of many made by the church's 251-member decision-making body.

The new rules will come into affect on May 20 next year, which is the Christian holiday of Pentecost.

The Church of Sweden is known for its liberal position on many issues, particularly homosexuality.

When Eva Brunne became Bishop of Stockholm in 2009, she was the first openly lesbian bishop in the world.

Members of the Evangelical Lutheran church met to discuss ways of updating a 31-year-old handbook(Image: Moment RF)

The church has 6.1 million baptised members out of a country of 10 million people.

A Church of England spokesman told The Telegraph its clergy will continue to refer to God as male.

He said: "The Church of England has always used masculine language when speaking about God, for example in the words of the Lord's Prayer -- 'our Father, who art in Heaven' -- and in referring to God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and continues to do so."

However, the spokesman said the C of E uses "inclusive" language when referring to people and, earlier this month, published guidelines on helping children "explore the possibilities of who they might be", including their gender identity.

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