Today I went to the Cathedral in Stockholm, the Nicolai Big Church, the one where the Reformation started in Sweden in 1525. There was to be a celebration. 50 years ago on the 17th of September 1958 the priestly Ministry was opened to women. As they used to say. The Ministry (with a tremor).
It was a rather quiet affair today, though. Perhaps due to a severe cold on the part of our Bishop Caroline, who was preaching. She painted a painting of 7 Biblical women of the Kerygma, the Message. Mary, Elizabeth, Hannah the Prophetess, the Woman by the well, Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany, the Woman anointing Jesus in Luke. We were also in the picture, she said.
All – men and women – who join in the call of Mary Magdalene: He is risen! Yea, He is indeed risen!
I personally, wouldn’t have minded a few trumpets and a kettle drum, for celebration’s sake, but it was rather quiet. It was not even very full, only about half. But there were even more women than usual in church. However the tension seems to have subsided. It’s not the way it was in Gothenburg when I was young. And thanks be to God for that! But it is rather interesting as a phenomenon.
I still remember when the first priest who was a woman came to Gothenburg around 1975, or so. What a row! In the 1980ies I sang for a few years in the church where she was Rector. She was really very nice, the only militancy about her being her old soldier’s name: Strid, which means Struggle. She also had a rare integrity, few approached uncalled. But what a fate…
When I came to Lund to study theology in 1993 I saw a young fellow in a corridor. Scanian fellow. Tall, loud… angry sounding (to non Scanians ; = ). His mother was a Rector further to the North, he told me one day. But Cecilia, another student was worse; her Grandmother’s sister was a priest. In Denmark. They had their first women priests in 1948.
At Lund in 1993 this non-issue was still somewhat controversial. The students studying for certain Dioceses (and their wives) were still upset.
Oddly enough I don’t remember being given any actual reasons, either in Gothenburg in the 1970ies, or later. It was simply un-thinkable. Period. But why? Anti Modernism I’d say. For over a century the church was the receptacle of various lost causes, having become more and more isolated… Socially, politically.
Klick on the Headline for pictures from this weeks Synod at Upsala featuring Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.