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  • May 2007: The Province of Mission (continued)

Another current debate concerns the establishment of the Province of Mission (Sw. Missionsprovinsen). A number of members of the Church of Sweden, who can not accept the development in the church, i.e. with women priests and bishops, have started this organisation in order to be able to ordain priests, who are not willing to co-operate with women priests. Such men are nowdays not ordained within the Church of Sweden.
The members of the province themselves regard the province as an organisation within the Church of Sweden. The leaders of the Church of Sweden, on the contrary, have argued that the Province is to be seen as a new church.

The clash between the church and the province came when the province consecrated a province bishop. This person, a retired priest of the Church of Sweden, was then disordained by the church. The consecrating bishop, a lutheran bishop from Kenya, until then a counselor to the Lutheran World Federation, was removed from this post by the federation. The reason was that he had interfered in another member church. Later, other priests in the Church of Sweden were consecrated as bishops of the province.
One of these priests, who was still in active duty, was – as a result of being disordained – fired from his employment in the local parish. He complained over this decision to the National Labour Court, but the court upheld the decision. The court concluded that the priest had not been loyal to his employer.

  • March 2007: Same-sex marriages (continued)

The issue of same-sex marriages is widely debated in Sweden at the moment. The Government had appointed the former Chancellor to give proposals concerning a “sex neutral” Matrimony Act. The ex-chancellor presented his proposals in March, 2007. These proposals contain a sex neutral Matrimony Act. The right for churches and other religious communities to officiate marriages will remain. But no church or religious community – or any individual priest – will be obliged to officiate a marriage. This means that a church, that does not want to officiate marriages for same-sex couples, does not have to do it.
Sweden has today a Partnership Act – for homosexual couples – separate from the Matrimony Act, but marriage and partnership are in practice legally the same. The only difference today regards international effects. Most churches and other religious communities in Sweden have the right to officiate marriages. Registration of partnership, though, can only be officiated by the authorities.

The standpoints of the Swedish churches and other religious communities differ. The Lutheran majority church, Church of Sweden, has since some months an official blessing act for same-sex couples. The Church of Sweden has also declared its openness even to officiate registration of partnership. But the church wants the words “marriage” only to be used for a woman-man-couple.
Several other churches, among them the Roman-Catholic Church and the Pentecostal Movement, are strongly against any thought of same-sex “marriages”. They have opposed against the Church of Sweden decision on blessing of same-sex couples.

There is, so far, no decision from the Government or the Parliament in the matter of same-sex marriages.

D 4 October 2012    ALars Friedner

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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