National Edition

Sweden names first female archbishop

Published: Friday, Oct. 18 2013 1:40 p.m. MDT

Stockholm, Sweden

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Antje Jackelen was recently elected as the first female archbishop of the Lutheran Church of Sweden, winning 55.9 percent of the vote cast by the ecclesiastical college of the church, according to the Huffington Post.

“I’m a little dazed and grateful for the support I got,” she told news agency TT.

The college that elected her is made up of 324 members. The Lutheran Church is followed by about two-thirds of Sweden’s population, the Huffington Post reported.

She was ordained in 1980, and is married to a priest with two kids, according to the Huffington Post.

“I've been out on the international scene a lot, and I can see that there is a curiosity about female church leaders. I have confidence and that is also an asset," Jackelen said to the BBC.

BBC reported that Anders Wejryd, the outgoing archbishop, said "it was about time" a woman worked in his role.

The German-born Jackelen is the latest woman appointed to the head of a church, as women in Germany, Norway and the United States also received top positions, according to the BBC. The Huffington Post article featured a slide show of other top female religious leaders.

Just recently, the United Kingdom and Ireland appointed its first female bishop, with Anglicans electing Rev. Pat Storey to the top post.

One blogger critiqued the way people tend to analyze women in the power, saying there’s a different standard for men and women. A writer at Church Times said only 16 percent of churchgoing Anglicans support the Church of England's views and policies on women, which doesn't call for women to be ordained bishops.

“This is why gender is still an issue, even where it isn't meant to be an issue anymore,” wrote Miranda Threlfall-Holmes. “If a man screws up, he is an individual who is bad at his job. If a woman screws up, it seems to show that women shouldn't do that job.”

Threlfall-Holmes said equality will only be reached when this standard is eliminated.

“We will know we have achieved genuine gender equality when a woman can mess up, or be controversial, or do something unpopular, and be criticised for her actions rather than as a representative of her sex,” she wrote.

Not everyone is in favor of the ordination of women. Similar to the Church of England, the Roman Catholic Church also opposes women being ordained. Last month, Pope Francis excommunicated an Australian priest in part because he favored the ordination of women, according to the Catholic Herald.

One of the bigger arguments against the ordination of women stems from the Bible's scripture, according to Rev. John Rodgers. He said the positions of the church should show how women and men are portrayed in the Bible.

"Since God by design has made us male and female, we are to understand and rejoice in our created nature as male and female," he wrote. "In the Bible the central and defining aspects of masculinity and femininity are found in the order and ministries of male headship and female support."

He also said ordination wouldn't just affect women.

"To ordain women to the priesthood and episcopate can only hurt the family, the church and society," he said. "It will hurt, not help, women and it will do damage to all."

Email: hscribner@deseretnews.com

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