Sweden's first female archbishop

Ever since 1164, all 69 Swedish archbishops have been men. Until now that is. 

  • Antje Jackelén, Sweden’s first female archbishop. Photo: Boberger
  • Short presentation of Antje Jackelén: Sweden now has its first ever female archbishop in Antje Jackelén. Ever since 1164, Swedish archbishops have been men, 69 of them to be exact. But now, in June, German-born Jackelén will succeed Anders Wejryd, as he retires. Metro.se met with Jackelén, and asked if it matters whether or not an archbishop is a woman or a man.
    ”Of course it does,” says Jackelén. ”Gender defines the personality.” Jackelén says her ambition is to be a great archbishop; to listen, to be empathetic, and clear. I want to work for the church to be a church… a church that radiates joy over mass, and a church that shares the knowledge of faith and life, and the entire community. A church in dialogue with its cotemporaries.”
    She says becoming a priest was a long process for her, and began with her wanting to study theology. ”But I didn’t say I wanted to be a priest, though the call and the conviction grew.”
    How should a person read the Bible? "You use the knowledge that exists in the present, in order to understand the Bible. The Bible has always been interpreted differently. Already among the Church Fathers there was a consciousness about several different ways to interpret the Bible. It is a fairly modern invention that it in some way is better or more pious to interpret the Bible literally.”
    The choice of a female archbishop in Sweden, puts an end to the question of female priests,’ says religion expert Christer Hedin at Stockholm University. ”It’s a sort of endpoint to the issue of women priests, and a definite victory for gender equality in the church.”
    Hedin explains that the resistance to women priests has been replaced with a resistance to same-sex marriages. He doesn’t believe that the 325 who voted for Jackelén with an overwhelming majority cared that she is a woman: ”She deserves attention because she is interested in current issues, and her openness. It would be sad if someone thought she was chosen because she was a woman, that would be like an insult.”

  • Antje Jackelén – Sweden’s first female archbishop. Photo: SVT. Still from interview on Swedish television.