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Lesbian Bishop Ordained in Sweden

November 10, 2009

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On Sunday, Eva Brunne was ordained as Bishop of the Church of Sweden. Brunne’s ordination is particularly historic, as she is now the first openly lesbian bishop in the world.

From SheWired:

Brunne, 55, who is in a registered partnership and has a three-year-old son, is believed to be the world’s first lesbian bishop. She was ordained as bishop of Stockholm’s diocese in a ceremony on Sunday in Uppsala Cathedral.

“It is very positive that our church is setting an example here and is choosing me as bishop based on my qualifications, when they also know that they can meet resistance elsewhere,” Brunne told The Associated Press.

Brunne, who was elected as bishop of Stockholm in a May said she hadn’t encountered much resistance within the church because of her sexual orientation.

Brunne’s appointment is yet another indication of Sweden’s overall acceptance of the LGBT community. Same-sex marriage is legal in Sweden,  and last month, the Church of Sweden announced that it will conduct the marriage ceremonies of same-sex couples. Additionally, LGBT people are included in all Swedish anti-discrimination laws, and the Swedish military allows LGBT people to serve openly.

Naturally, the Church of Sweden’s decision to be inclusive and welcoming to LGBT parishoners and clergy is not being applauded by all:

Representatives of the Catholic and Orthodox churches in Sweden expressed their disapproval of the decision in a joint letter to Swedish Archbishop Anders Wejryd.

Church of England spokesman Steve Jenkins said relations between his church and the Church of Sweden may become strained because of the decision.

The “strained” relations between the Church of Sweden and the Church of England became apparent on Sunday, when five Anglican bishops from England and Northern Ireland refused to attend Brunne’s ordination. The topic of homosexuality has caused considerable controversy within the Anglican Communion in recent years; the Episcopal Church’s support of the LGBT community (and decision to ordain LGBT clergy) has led to a divide between the once inseparable Episcopal and Anglican churches. The Catholic Church (also known for its discriminatory stance on LGBT rights) is now reaching out to the Anglican Communion, going so far as to announce recently that married men will soon be allowed to become priests. If the relationship between the Anglican and Catholic churches continues to strengthen, the divide between the Church of England and the Church of Sweden may deepen even further.

Considering Sweden’s excellent track record on LGBT equality, I doubt that the pressure the Church of Sweden receives from other denominations, like the Anglican Communion, will impact or change the Church of Sweden’s position on homosexuality. On the contrary, I hope and believe that the example set by the Church of Sweden, the Episocopal Church and others, will lead the way toward making more conservative-leaning religions open to the idea of recognizing and supporting LGBT people. Brunne’s ordination as certainly a step forward, and I hope that she will be the first of many prominent LGBT bishops throughout the world.

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