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Leader sorry for Newtown pastor’s reprimand

Rev. Rob Morris offered a benediction at a Dec. 16 vigil.

Rev. Rob Morris offered a benediction at a Dec. 16 vigil.

ST. LOUIS — The president of a conservative Lutheran denomination has apologized for reprimanding a Newtown, Conn., pastor who participated in an interfaith prayer vigil in apparent violation of the church’s constitution.

The Rev. Rob Morris of Christ the King Lutheran Church offered the benediction at the Dec. 16 vigil with other religious leaders — including Jewish, Muslim, and Baha’i — for victims of the shootings at the Sandy Hook Elementary School.

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The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod president, Matthew Harrison, subsequently reprimanded Morris, saying the synod constitution bars joint worship for fear of giving the appearance that theological differences about salvation and other doctrines are not significant.

Reports on the reprimand and Morris’s apology incited outrage among some bloggers and posters on social media sites who expressed disapproval with the synod’s decision.

On Monday, Harrison posted a video apology on the synod website saying his actions had only made things worse.

‘‘I exacerbated the problem,’’ a somber Harrison said. ‘‘I caused greater offense. I caused trouble for Pastor Morris and difficulty for the congregation and offense there in the midst of their suffering. Please forgive me.’’

The vigil, which took place days after the Dec. 14 shootings that left 20 children and six educators dead, was also attended by President Obama and Governor Dannel Malloy of Connecticut.

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