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Broad church: Is Sweden world's first nation to have more female priests than male?

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Priest Sandra Signarsdotter poses for a picture ahead of the Sunday service at Gustaf Vasa Church in Odenplan, Stockholm on August 23, 2020
Priest Sandra Signarsdotter poses for a picture ahead of the Sunday service at Gustaf Vasa Church in Odenplan, Stockholm on August 23, 2020   -   Copyright  JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP
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The Swedish Lutheran Church may be the world's first to have more female priests than male ones, according to estimations shared by the World Council of Churches.

Female priests outnumbered males in Sweden 50.1% to 49.9% in July, and there are already more women in the country studying to become priests than men.

It comes 62 years after women were allowed to be ordained in the Swedish Lutheran Church and over a hundred years after Anna Howard Shaw, an American Methodist suffragist pastor, first preached in Sweden, in 1911.

In the Lutheran Church of Sweden, which has almost 6 million members in a country of 10.3 million, women "are here to stay", says priest Sandra Signarsdotter.

She was ordained in 2014; in the same year, Antje Jackelén, another woman, became Primate of Sweden.

However, despite changes in the church's demographics, Signarsdotter argues that women "have not yet achieved equality" in the Swedish church.

They earn on average €213 less per month than their male counterparts, according to the specialist newspaper Kyrkans Tidning.

Also, women hold fewer top jobs than men. Only four bishoprics are led by women of 13 in total.

"The way is still long," Signarsdotter continues. "One day, a colleague told me 'You have a beautiful butt'".

"Even being a priest, I am first seen as a body," she regrets, as she hopes the church will one day get rid of "the patriarchal structures of society".